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A Christian factory worker in Scotland was awarded more than $26,000 last week after an employment tribunal found a company policy and its application to be ‘indirectly discriminatory’.
Jevgenijs Kovalkovs, a member of the Russian Orthodox Church, “had lost his job because of discrimination against him”, labor judge Louise Cowen told the Dundee court, according to The Telegraph. “His religion and the wearing of his necklace had a deep and profound meaning for him.”
Kovalkovs was working as a quality inspector at 2 Sisters Food Group Limited in Coupar Angus, Scotland, when his supervisor ordered him to remove the collar, which was a gift from his mother.
The court heard that Kovalkovs had been told by his supervisor that his necklace, which had 30 small links and had been sanctified at his godson’s baptism, posed a “danger” to chicken wholesalers.
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According to the company’s foreign object control policy, jewelry is not allowed to be worn “in on-site production areas, with the exception of a single-plane ring.”
Religious jewelry may be allowed after a “risk assessment,” but such an assessment was never done by Kovalkovs’ supervisor, the panel was further told.
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After Kovalkovs continued to wear the collar, he was fired for failing to obey an instruction. Because he was on probation, his employment was terminated “immediately”.
Kovalkos’ firing was “entirely” based on not disclosing the collar during the induction course he took when he joined, the panel found.
The panel awarded Kovalkos £22,074.68, which equates to more than $26,000.
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In a similar case, the UK Employment Tribunal ruled in January in favor of Mary Onuoha, a Christian nurse who took legal action against Croydon Health Services NHS Trust in London after quitting in June 2020. Onuoha has claimed she had been targeted for years for wearing a small cross-shaped necklace which she was told posed “a health and safety risk”.
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