Mr N Cherfi, a Muslim security guard, employed by G4S Security Services Limited was refused by his employer to take time off to attend prayers in the mosque on Fridays. The Employment Appeals Tribunal found that this refusal was objectively justified. Below are the details about the case.

(c) Flickr user mattbuck4950

Mr Cherfi, a Muslim security guard, wanted permission to take time off on Fridays to attend prayers in Finsbury mosque. However, his employer refused his request and told him that he needs to remain on the site during all his shifts.

Generally, this could be considered indirect religious discrimination as Mr Cherfi appears to be disadvantaged because of his religion. However, the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) ruled against Mr Cherfi’s appeal on two grounds –

a) The employer’s decision to refuse Mr Cherfi’s request was objectively justified since having Mr Cherfi on the site during all his shifts was an occupational requirement and was a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. As a security guard, Mr Cherfi was employed to guard the premises for which his physical presence was required on the site.

b) The employer was willing to make reasonable adjustments but they were rejected by Mr Cherfi. Mr Cherfi was offered the option of working on weekends instead of  Fridays and was also given access to a prayer room at the client site. But Mr Cherfi chose not to take up any of these options.

Therefore, the EAT ruled that Mr Cherfi was not prevented by his employers to pray on Fridays and also rejected the claim that the justification for not letting him leave the premises was not solely based on costs consideration.

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