UK Tribunal Says Christian Worker Fired for Wearing a Cross Necklace Was Victim of Discrimination'
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A Christian factory worker in the United Kingdom, who was fired for refusing to take off his cross necklace, was awarded almost $30,000 by an employment tribunal after it found he had been the subject of discrimination.
Jevgenijs Kovalkovs was hired by the 2 Sisters Food Group Limited, a chicken wholesaler in Coupar Angus, Scotland in November 2019 and was promoted to the role of quality inspector. He wore a silver cross necklace containing 30 small links every day to work. The tribunal heard testimony about how the necklace had been consecrated during the baptism ceremony of his godchild, according to The Telegraph.
A member of the Russian Orthodox Church, Kovalkovs said wearing the cross, which was a gift from his mother, signified a "commitment to his belief."
Kovalkovs was asked to remove the necklace by his manager who said his necklace was a "hazard." But he refused to take off the necklace which had a "deep and profound meaning" to him, The Telegraph reports.
The company allows religious jewelry subject to a "risk assessment." But the manager never filed an assessment about the necklace.
After being sent to the company's Human Resources Department, Kovalkovs was told since he did not obey a manager's instruction during his probationary period, his employment was terminated effective "immediately."
The tribunal found the company's policy and its application were "indirectly discriminatory" and Kovalkovs was awarded 22,074.68 GBP or $27,289.49 in U.S. dollars.
Employment Judge Louise Cowen said that it was clear Mr. Kovalkovs "had lost a job as a result of the discrimination towards him."
"His religion and the wearing of his necklace were of deep and profound meaning to him," she added.
In response to the tribunal's ruling, a Coupar Angus spokesman told The Telegraph, "We note today's judgment and at this stage cannot comment any further."
Kovalkovs is not the first Christian to fight a legal battle for the right to wear a cross at work in the UK. As CBN News reported in January, an employment tribunal ruled that the NHS Trust harassed and directly discriminated against a Christian nurse for wearing a cross necklace at work.
Represented by attorneys with the Christian Legal Centre, a legal ministry of the watchdog group Christian Concern, Mary Onuoha, was told by the tribunal that she had been victimized by Croydon Health Services NHS Trust.
Onuoha had sued her former employer in October of 2021, alleging she was intimidated and forced out of her job because she wore a cross necklace.
Onuoha, 61, had been a member of the hospital's staff for 18 years. She said she wore the cross for 40 years to represent her deep Christian faith.
"I am a strong woman, but I have been treated like a criminal," she said at the time."I love my job, but I am not prepared to compromise my faith for it, and neither should other Christian NHS staff in this country."
The tribunal agreed with Onuoha, ruling the NHS Trust breached her human rights and created a "humiliating, hostile and threatening environment" for her.
The Daily Mail reports a remedy hearing for the case will be scheduled at a later date.
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