Christian NHS worker appeals against Employment Tribunal ruling that she ‘bullied’ colleague

20130729-An-employment-tribunal-si-006A Christian health worker has appealed against the ruling of an Employment Tribunal that she bullied and harassed a Muslim colleague when she prayed for the colleague, claiming that the ruling breached her human rights.

Ms Victoria Wasteney, 37, brought her claims to the Employment Tribunal last year after she claimed that she had been discriminated against and victimised for being given a final written warning for praying for a Muslim colleague of hers.

The claim came to the East London Employment Tribunal last year, with Ms Wasteney giving evidence of her allegations that the East London NHS Trust had discriminated against her and victimised her by failing to clear her of wrongdoing after an investigation had been held into a complaint that Ms Wasteney had attempted to convert Enya Nawaz,  a Muslim colleague, by:

  • Giving the colleague a book about a Muslim woman that converted to Christianity;
  • Ms Wasteney requesting that Ms Nawaz pray with her;
  • That Ms Wasteney had set up ‘healing sessions’ at Ms Nawaz’s house and that she had told Ms Nawaz that she would not be healed unless she converted to Christianity

The investigation by the East London NHS Trust found that Ms Wasteney had acted inappropriately and was given a final written warning in February 2014 as a result, although this was reduced to a written warning after Ms Wasteney appealed the decision.

The East London Employment Tribunal released its judgment on Ms Wasteney’s case earlier this year, finding that Ms Wasteney had not been discriminated against or victimised by the East London NHS Trust and, further, that the investigation, disciplinary hearing, and outcome was fair.

Lawyers for Ms Wasteney have now submitted an appeal against the decision of the East London Employment Tribunal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal, with the appeal principally based on an argument that the East London NHS Trust breached Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to protect Ms Wasteney’s freedom of conscience and religion.

It is expected that a hearing in this case will take place at the London-based Employment Appeal Tribunal later this year.

Chris Hadrill, an employment law solicitor at Redmans Solicitors, commented on the case: “If there is a complaint of discrimination, harassment or victimisation in the workplace then organisations must be extremely careful to investigate these carefully and come to a prompt and fair decision based on the evidence before it. A failure to do so can potentially result in an expensive and time-consuming Employment Tribunal claim.”