Crucifixes, neck-chains and food hygiene: Kovalkovs

In Mr J Kovalkovs v 2 Sisters Food Group Limited [2022] UKET 4102454/2020, Mr Kovalkovs, an Orthodox Christian, was a quality inspector in 2 Sisters Food Group’s chicken processing factory. He wore a silver crucifix on a neck-chain as an expression of his faith. 2 Sisters’ Foreign Body Control policy stated that “jewellery must not be worn in the production areas on site, with the exception of a single plan band ring”. An exception was made for religious jewellery, subject to a risk assessment; however, the risk assessment concluded that “because the chain was made of links there was a risk of contamination” and there was a potential for “entanglement, entrapment or tearing”. Mr Kovalkovs refused to give up wearing his crucifix and was dismissed.

His original claim before an Employment Tribunal was dismissed; however, on appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal, in a judgment on 2 February 2022 (of which I have not seen a transcript), Lord Fairley set aside the original judgment of 8 March 2021 to the extent that it dismissed the claim of indirect discrimination. Continue reading