Omooba v Michael Garrett Associates Ltd

by Priya Magar

26 March 2024

The Employment Appeal Tribunal has dismissed an appeal against an employment tribunal’s ruling that a Christian actor, who had been dismissed from playing a lesbian character following publicly expressing her beliefs that homosexuality is a sin, did not experience direct discrimination based on her religion or beliefs.

The Claimant was an actor who had grown up in a Christian family and her religious beliefs meant that she refused to play certain roles. In 2014, the Claimant had shared her views on social media stating that homosexuality ‘is a sin’ and that a person ‘cannot be born gay’. 5 years later, the Claimant had been cast to play a lesbian character who has a relationship with a woman in the play. Once the cast had been announced, the Claimant’s posts had been shared on social media platforms, leading to damaging press, criticising the Claimant and those who had cast her.

The theatre (along with the Claimant’s agency) terminated the Claimant’s contract and the theatre offered the Claimant the money that she would have earnt. The Claimant brought claims of direct religion and belief discrimination, amongst other claims, against the theatre (and her agency). During the Tribunal process, the Claimant admitted that she never would have played the role and would have resigned had she not been dismissed.

The Claimant’s claims were dismissed by the Tribunal. Although the Claimant’s beliefs regarding homosexuality were protected under the Equality Act 2010, the Tribunal found that this had not been the reason she was dismissed. The Tribunal had found that the reason for the Claimant’s dismissal was due to her posing a potential threat to the success of the play.

In addition, the Tribunal made a costs award against the Claimant for the entirety of the Respondent’s costs. The Tribunal found that in light of the Claimant’s admission that she never would have played the role and would have resigned, her claims had no reasonable prospect of success. The Tribunal also took into account the Claimant had availability of financial support from the Christian Legal Centre (CLC) and Christian Concern Ltd (CCL), which had provided her with representation. The Tribunal noted that these organisations had used the case as a publicity opportunity, rather than fighting it on its merits.

The Claimant appealed this decision to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) who dismissed the appeal. The EAT considered that, based on the Tribunal’s findings of fact, the Claimant was not dismissed due to her belief or the manifestation of that belief. In addition, the EAT upheld the costs order made against the Claimant.

This case is unlikely to resolve the challenges that employers face where a conflict arises between an individual’s religion or beliefs and the differing views of others. It is clear that each case depends on its particular facts and circumstances.

The Employment Team at EMW are on hand should you need advice on how to balance conflicting rights in the workplace. If you would like to speak to one of the team on this issue, please see our contact details below.


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