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Muslim bus driver loses discrimination and harassment claims

A Muslim bus driver has lost his claim that he was subjected to harassment based on his race or religion while at work.

The issue arose when the driver, who was of Moroccan origin, was talking to a colleague in the staff canteen. 

He told him about a report made by a journalist who went to Syria and spoke to Islamic State (IS), quoting the journalist's opinion that they were proficient fighters.

A few weeks later, the colleague asked him if he was "still promoting IS". The driver was upset by the remark and became involved in an incident with another colleague in front of a canteen worker, who complained that he was behaving in an aggressive and threatening manner. She said that she had felt frightened. 

At a disciplinary meeting, the driver's behaviour was found to have been threatening and abusive. He was summarily dismissed for gross misconduct.

He brought a claim of harassment related to religious belief or race based on what the colleague had said to him in the canteen. He also made a claim based on direct discrimination.

The Employment Tribunal rejected the claims. It concluded that the colleague's remark about IS had been made because of his previous conversation with the driver and did not constitute direct discrimination. It also concluded, for the same reasons, that the remark did not relate to the employee's race or religion.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal has upheld those decisions.

For further advice on any of the issues raised in this article, or for commercial law advice more generally, please contact JPP Law on 020 3468 3064 or email info@jpplaw.co.uk.

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