Employers must give equal protection to the rights of religious and gay employees, notwithstanding the potential for conflict.
A Christian employee had been employed as a registrar for three years before the registration of civil partnerships was introduced. She refused to carry out the new duties on the grounds that she believed homosexuality is a sin. Homosexual colleagues complained that they felt victimised by her stance and she was disciplined for her refusal.
The employer should have treated the Christian employee's grievance that gay employees were harassing her because of her religious belief in the same way as the gay employees' grievance about her stance. Failure to do so was unlawful direct discrimination.
The employer's insistence that she carry out civil partnership work was also held to be unlawful indirect discrimination. Although the employer's aims of providing a civil partnership registration service and fighting discrimination were legitimate, the means chosen to achieve them were disproportionate. It would have been possible to accommodate the employee without disrupting the service. (Ladele v London Borough of Islington, ET)