Sexual orientation meets religious expression: Mbuyi v Newpark Childcare

In the roundup for 14 June we mentioned that a London nursery worker, Ms Sarah Mbuyi, had successfully sued Newpark Childcare for unfair dismissal after she had told a lesbian colleague about her beliefs on same-sex relationships and said that we hoped to provide a proper analysis in due course. Here it is.

The facts

In Mbuyi v Newpark Childcare (Shepherds Bush) Ltd [2015] ET 3300656/2014 the claimant, Ms Sarah Mbuyi, was a Belgian national and an Evangelical Christian, employed primarily at the respondent’s nursery in Shepherds Bush. Her colleague Laura P was a lesbian in a civil partnership. LP was in hospital after an incident at the nursery and it was common ground that Ms Mbuyi had tried to be kind and supportive of her. On her return to work Ms Mbuyi had given LP a Bible and it was also common ground that LP had thanked her for the gift [10-14]. The problem arose in relation to comments that Ms Mbuyi was alleged to have made to LP about her sexual orientation [32]: LP complained and there was a disciplinary hearing.

At that hearing Ms Mbuyi contended that LP had been the first to raise the issue of Ms Mbuyi’s churchgoing and her own sexuality and lifestyle, had asked if she would be welcomed at Ms Mbuyi’s church and had specifically asked what she believed that God thought about her living arrangements [46]. The discussion at the disciplinary hearing

“then went into the ‘type of sins God does not like’ which, on the face of it, could only have been an enquiry into the claimant’s belief as opposed to what may have been said to LP. The claimant responded, ‘lying, homosexuality, that’s in the Bible! There is no way I would compromise my faith'” [47 & 48].

She appealed in writing but the dismissal was upheld [83-91]. Continue reading