The EAT has upheld the decision of the employment tribunal in Gareddu -v- London Underground Ltd 2016, to the effect that the claimant’s asserted need to take five weeks’ consecutive leave over a particular period in order to attend religious festivals was not genuine, and as such he had not suffered from indirect discrimination.

Mr Gareddu had worked for London underground since 1990, and had 38 days holiday per year. He typically took five consecutive weeks’ holiday in August in order to attend a series of religious festivals with his family near his place of birth in Sardinia. In 2013 a new manager refused his request, explaining that requests for more than 15 days’ consecutive leave during the school holidays would be unlikely to be approved. Mr Gareddu alleged that it was part of his religious belief that he attends and participates with his family in ancient religious festivals held in Sardinia in or around the month of August and that the refusal to permit him to have more than 15 days’ leave during this period amounted to indirect religious discrimination contrary to section 19 Equality Act 2010.

The employment tribunal rejected his claim; while it was entirely possible that attendance at religious festivals could constitute a manifestation of a religious belief, Mr Gareddu’s assertion concerning his belief in this case was not genuine. The tribunal found that which festivals Mr Gareddu attended in any particular year was a matter for discussion and consultation with his family, and that in 2013 he only attended 9 of the 17 festivals that he had stated he would invariably attend. The tribunal found as a matter of fact that his motive for wanting five consecutive weeks’ holiday related to his family arrangements rather than his religious belief or its manifestation.

The EAT was satisfied that the tribunal had been entitled to reach this decision on the basis of the evidence before it. Mr Gareddu argued that the tribunal had erred in ‘weighing up’ his family motivation against his religious motivation, but the EAT held that the tribunal had not approached the question in this way. The tribunal had been entitled to conclude that the particular manifestation contended for (the requirement for a specific five week period) was not genuine, independently of whether or not he may have had mixed motivations.