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Court of Appeal Judgment in Religious Discrimination Case of Naeem


Underhill LJ has delivered the judgment of the Court of Appeal in religious discrimination case of Naeem.

Prisons have a statutory obligation to appoint a Chaplin at every prison in the UK; this will be from the Church of England, or where the number of prisoners belonging to other denominations require it, a minister from another denomination.

Since 2002 Muslim chaplains have been employed alongside Christian chaplains (for other religions ministers are sometimes engaged in a sessional basis). The ET made a finding of fact that the absence of Muslim chaplains before 2002 was for non discriminatory reasons – that objectively there had been insufficient Muslim prisoners to warrant such an engagement.

Mr Naeem is an Iman, employed as a prison chaplain from 2002. He claimed that the pay scale under which longer service led to a higher basic pay was indirectly discriminatory in relation to religion.

The CA approached the issue differently from both the ET and EAT. Following on from the case of Essop v Home Office [2015] EWCA Civ 609, it held that when considering the question of whether the 'pcp' places people of a shared characteristic at a particular disadvantage, this does involve a causation question. The bare fact that Christian chaplains had, on average, longer service than Muslim chaplains was only the first part of the necessary analysis. There must also be an enquiry as to the cause of the disadvantage and whether it reflects any characteristic peculiar to them as Muslims. Here it was not and the claim failed.

To read the full judgment, click here.

naeem, religious discrimination, old square chambers, muslim chaplains, prison

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