LONDON — A Christian childcare worker who was fired for “gross misconduct” after she explained the biblical position on homosexuality to her lesbian co-worker has won her legal challenge before an employment tribunal.
As previously reported, Sarah Mbuyi, 30, was repeatedly asked about her beliefs over a period of several months in 2013 at Newpark Childcare in Highbury after her lesbian co-worker discovered that she is a Christian. The latest discussion occurred in January 2014 when her co-worker remarked that she was unhappy that she could not ‘marry’ her partner because of the Church’s beliefs, and stated that she thought God had nothing against homosexual behavior.
When Mbuyi replied by explaining the biblical position on the matter, she was reported to her boss.
“When I said ‘No, God does not condone the practice of homosexuality, but does love you and says you should come to Him as you are’, she became emotional and went off to report me to my manager,” Mbuyi stated in a press release.
“I never ever condemned her, or accused her, but when she asked me directly what I believed, I was open about sharing the Bible’s teaching that homosexual sex (not the people) is wrong,” she continued. “It’s clear that this offended her and she was determined to get me sacked, simply because I expressed traditional Christian beliefs.”
Mbuyi was then asked to attend a disciplinary hearing where she was confronted with her co-worker’s accusations. However, she said that some of the claims were false, such as that it was Mbuyi who had initiated discussions about homosexuality with her co-worker.
“My disciplinary hearing was hopelessly one-sided because they put my accuser’s claims to me as fact, without any forewarning and so I wasn’t prepared,” Mbuyi stated. “It seemed to me they had already made up their minds to justify sacking me, before hearing my side of the story.”
She was immediately fired for gross misconduct.
Mbuyi subsequently filed a complaint against her employer with the Watford Employment Tribunal, charging religious discrimination and an unfair dismissal.
Now, the tribunal has ruled in favor of Mbuyi, stating that she was wrongfully fired for simply responding to her co-worker’s statements by expressing her beliefs. It stated that while Newpark Childcare was not seemingly “anti-Christian,” Mbuyi’s employers had made a “stereotypical assumption about evangelical Christians” and “pre-judged the outcome [by] accepting unchallenged evidence that supported the stereotypical assumption and/or interpreted Miss Mbuyi’s evidence in an almost impossible way.”
According to the Guardian, the tribunal also ruled that Mbuyi’s opinions were “worthy of respect in a democratic society,” and were “not incompatible with human dignity and is not in conflict with the fundamental rights of others”. It stated that a “prohibition on employees expressing adverse views on homosexuality and/or describing homosexuality as a sin” would have a “disparate impact on Christians holding similar views to Miss Mbuyi on the biblical teachings on practicing homosexuality.”
“That is not merely because a significantly higher proportion of Christians would hold such views but also because many evangelical Christians feel their faith compels them to share it,” the tribunal wrote.
Newpark Childcare has released a statement defending its firing of Mbuyi, remarking that it needed to protect the “culture” of being inclusive of all types of persons.
“We have robust policies and rules to ensure our nursery is inclusive and supportive for our children and staff and we took the decision to dismiss Miss Mbuyi with a view to protecting that culture,” stated director Tiffany Clutterbuck. “However, the tribunal found Miss Mbuyi’s actions were not harassment of a gay colleague and that she was entitled to express her religious beliefs in the workplace in the context of the conversation which took place. Our priority will always be to provide an environment where every child feels like he or she belongs.”
Mbuyi maintains that she did nothing wrong.
“I only ever responded to questions that my colleague asked me and wanted the very best for her. I give glory to God for the decision and say ‘well done’ to the Christian Legal Centre,” Mbuyi said in a statement, referencing the legal organization that assisted her in court. “I hope that my previous employer and colleagues are well and will understand from this that my intention was for their best.”