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Religious beliefs over secular values

Alex Bearman discusses how equality laws apply to employment for the purposes of an organised religion

10 January 2017

The UK’s first discrimination legislation was enacted over 50 years ago and since then the protection provided by equality laws has become an increasingly accepted feature of societal relationships. It is now quite difficult to imagine that what is now unlawful discriminatory conduct was once quite openly engaged in by private employers and public institutions alike.

However, it has always been the case that discrimination legislation has accommodated certain exceptions to its basic tenets. One such area is employment for the purposes of an ‘organised religion’. This particular exemption was considered in detail in the Employment Appeal Tribunal decision of The Reverend Canon J C Pemberton v The Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham.

The bishop refused to grant Reverend Pemberton the licence he needed to take up a position as a chaplain at an NHS trust because...

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