A Christian nursery worker sacked by her employer for making negative comments about homosexuality and gay marriage has won an employment tribunal against her former employers for unfair dismissal.
In January 2014, Sarah Mbuyi, 31, was removed from her position at Newpark Childcare in Shepherd’s Bush, London on the grounds of gross misconduct. In this instance This followed Ms Mbuyi’s telling an openly gay colleague that her homosexual lifestyle and gay marriage act in contrast to the wishes of God.
The conversation begun after the colleague disputed the fact that she was refused the chance to marry her partner in a church ceremony due to Christian belief. Evoking EU laws on religious freedom, Ms Mbuyi’s employers made the decision dismiss her from her nursery position after receiving a complaint from the colleague
Ms Mbuyi, a Belgian citizen living in Tottenham, claims she was only responding to questions relating to the Christian stance on gay marriage and that she meant to no personal offence to the colleague who proposed these questions despite being aware of Ms Mbuyi’s beliefs and the related teachings of the bible.
The Christian Legal Centre (CLC) supported Ms Mbuyi throughout the tribunal, making claims that she was unfairly classed as having behaved in a discriminatory way due to her religious beliefs.
The tribunal verdict
The Watford tribunal ruled against the possibility that the managers at Newpark Childcare acted in a manner that discriminated against Christian views, but did consider that Ms Mbuyi was most likely dismissed from her job due to Newpark Childcare making “stereotypical assumptions about her beliefs”.
This was a sentiment supported by Ms Mbuyi, who agreed that it wasn’t a case of religious discrimination from her employer: She remarked “there were other Christians employed there, and there was never any campaign against them.”
The controversial ruling was justified by the tribunal on the grounds that censorship of Christian belief would cause a major impact on UK religious freedom, as a large amount of Christians hold the same views on homosexuality, and that many evangelical Christians actually believe their faith demands that they share such viewpoints.
Since the ruling a delighted Ms Mbuyi has spoken openly about the tribunal ruling and the support she has received in the process: “I only ever responded to questions that my colleague asked me […] I give glory to God for the decision and say ‘well done’ to the Christian Legal Centre. I hope that my previous employer and colleagues are well and will understand from this that my intention was for their best.”
Newpark Childcare have now defended their decision to dismiss Ms Mbuyi. Speaking to the Sunday Times,Tiffany Clutterbuck, a director of Newpark Childcare, asserts that the company was merely reacting in a way they deemed to be the most appropriate response to to the situation, claiming “We have robust policies and rules to ensure our nursery is inclusive and supportive for our children and staff, and we took the decision to dismiss Miss Mbuyi with a view to protecting that culture”.