Christian social worker takes mental health company to court for discrimination
Touchstone Support offered 45 year-old Felix Ngole the position of a mental health support worker at Wakefield Hospital. Shortly after he was told that his Christian beliefs did not "align" with Touchstone's as an "inclusive employer" and that he posed a risk to the organisation's reputation
Mr Ngole was dismissed from his social work degree at the University of Sheffield after posting that marriage was between a man and a woman, and that same-sex marriage was sinful in 2015. Following a four-year legal battle, the court ruled in his favour and he was allowed to finish his studies.
The judge said the university had “confused” religious views with discrimination, and they could not see any proof that Mr Ngole would discriminate against anyone based on their sexuality.
According to the Christian Legal Centre (CLC), which is supporting Mr Ngole, Touchstone Support changed their mind after hearing about Mr Ngole’s court victory. They told him that they had “identified some significant areas for concern regarding your suitability for both the role and Touchstone as an organisation”.
Mr Ngole took the case to an employment tribunal. He submitted a claim against discrimination, harassment and compensation for emotional injury. He also asked for a recommendation from the tribunal that Touchstone amends its recruitment procedures to ensure that Christians are not excluded from its workforce.
At the hearing he said: “No one has ever told me that I have not treated them well in my professional experience. I have never been accused of forcing my beliefs on anyone. I have supported vulnerable individuals from all backgrounds, including LGBT. I was delighted to be invited to the interview so that I could showcase my skills. I saw it as a step closer to my dream job. It was a brilliant interview; I was greeted warmly, and they were really kind to me. I was offered the job and they were already talking to me about my first day and who my line manager would be. When I received the email telling me that the job had been withdrawn it was a shock. I was very confused and distraught, and I wanted to know why. The reasons they gave for withdrawing the job offer were an attack on me and my faith. They made it seem that 100% of the people I would be helping would be LGBT, and that I had to pledge allegiance to the LGBT flag and forget about my Christian beliefs.
If we get to the point where if you don’t celebrate and support LGBT you can’t have a job, then every Christian out there doesn’t have a future. You can study as much as you like, but you will not have a chance. The UK is no longer the country I heard about all those years ago when fleeing Cameroon. The UK then was a bastion of free speech and expression. I have no choice but to pursue justice again because if this is happening to me it will be happening to Christians and individuals from all beliefs and backgrounds across the country.”