Sunday campaigners defeated at tribunal - news from ekklesia on theology and politics from a christian perspective

By staff writers
April 22, 2003

Sunday campaigners defeated at tribunal

-22/4/03

In a blow to ìKeep Sunday Special ì campaigners, a Christian man who claimed he was fired for refusing to work on Sundays has lost his case in front of a British employment tribunal.

Stephen Copsey, 32, a Christian, told an industrial tribunal in January that a Norfolk chemicals company had dismissed him after he had refused to work on Sundays.

A tribunal ruling has concluded WBB Devon Clays of King's Lynn acted reasonably.

Mr Copsey worked for the company for more than 14 years. He joined the company, which funded him to do a university degree, when he left school. But when round-the-clock working was introduced in April 2002 to meet a large order, managers could not guarantee Mr Copsey would never be called in on a Sunday.

At first colleagues filled the shifts Mr Copsey would have done, but in July 2002 he was asked to leave.

Mr Copsey's action was supported by the Cambridge-based Keep Sunday Special campaign, which claims that Christians do not have the same protections under as other groups. The campaign has been running for a number of years, and was initiated by the Jubilee Centre.

The campaign, which unsuccessfully fought against a 1994 law that allowed stores to open for six hours on Sunday, drew support from a large base of religious people, unions and mid-sized retailers.

Paul Diamond, his barrister, who has also worked for the Christian Institute on other campaigns to do with issues of human rights, said the tribunal was a test case under the Human Rights Act aiming to protect an individual's liberty to follow their religious beliefs.

The company contended it was largely unaware of Copsey's religious beliefs and that he refused to take other opportunities offered by management.

Copsey, who worked for the company for 14 years, told the court; "I respect the Bible's teaching. I pray to God and live life by the Ten Commandments.

Drawing on the idea of the established church for support he said; "You'd think that in a Christian country, Christians would have at least the same rights, if not slightly better ones, than those of other faiths".

An appeal against the decision is expected.

Sunday campaigners defeated at tribunal

-22/4/03

In a blow to ìKeep Sunday Special ì campaigners, a Christian man who claimed he was fired for refusing to work on Sundays has lost his case in front of a British employment tribunal.

Stephen Copsey, 32, a Christian, told an industrial tribunal in January that a Norfolk chemicals company had dismissed him after he had refused to work on Sundays.

A tribunal ruling has concluded WBB Devon Clays of King's Lynn acted reasonably.

Mr Copsey worked for the company for more than 14 years. He joined the company, which funded him to do a university degree, when he left school. But when round-the-clock working was introduced in April 2002 to meet a large order, managers could not guarantee Mr Copsey would never be called in on a Sunday.

At first colleagues filled the shifts Mr Copsey would have done, but in July 2002 he was asked to leave.

Mr Copsey's action was supported by the Cambridge-based Keep Sunday Special campaign, which claims that Christians do not have the same protections under as other groups. The campaign has been running for a number of years, and was initiated by the Jubilee Centre.

The campaign, which unsuccessfully fought against a 1994 law that allowed stores to open for six hours on Sunday, drew support from a large base of religious people, unions and mid-sized retailers.

Paul Diamond, his barrister, who has also worked for the Christian Institute on other campaigns to do with issues of human rights, said the tribunal was a test case under the Human Rights Act aiming to protect an individual's liberty to follow their religious beliefs.

The company contended it was largely unaware of Copsey's religious beliefs and that he refused to take other opportunities offered by management.

Copsey, who worked for the company for 14 years, told the court; "I respect the Bible's teaching. I pray to God and live life by the Ten Commandments.

Drawing on the idea of the established church for support he said; "You'd think that in a Christian country, Christians would have at least the same rights, if not slightly better ones, than those of other faiths".

An appeal against the decision is expected.

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