News from Europe

Sainsbury’s sacked a Christian employee after she refused to work on Sunday morning

Jacqueline Rendell, who had worked for the supermarket for 20 years, was fired for refusing to work on Sunday mornings, which would’ve prevented her from attending the Sunday church service.

Ms Rendell, from Herne Bay, near Whitstable in the South East of England, was contracted to work two Sundays a month until her contract was shredded under ‘fire and rehire’ strategy. The issue started in October 2021, when the new shift patterns would have prevented her from going to church on Sunday mornings. When she disagreed with the new contract, the supermarket chain dismissed her. 

Ms Rendell has since been fighting to prove she was unfairly sacked. She presented her case to a tribunal, proving that her previous hours included one Sunday shift a fortnight, but she was suddenly expected to work every Sunday when the store executed a one-week rota system instead of a fortnightly one. She tried negotiating a job share with a colleague, but her bosses rejected the idea. She attempted to explain that the new schedule would interfere with her religious beliefs, as well as additional roles as a carer for her mother and a second job she held.

Representatives of Sainsbury’s insisted that the changes to employee contracts were necessary as they did not have enough staff working weekends and had no budget to hire extra workers to cover the gaps. They were also adamant that Ms Rendell had rejected alternative roles. She opposed this, saying none of the alternative job vacancies were suitable.

An Employment Judge is going to announce a judgement in approximately five weeks. 

According to the Equality Act 2010, religious and belief discrimination is illegal in the UK. Even though it is supposed to protect the rights of those with any religion, there is no definitive list of religions or beliefs. 



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