Mitcham Christian Celestina Mba who refuses to work on Sunday takes Merton Council battle to Court of Appeal
A devout Christian is claiming she was illegally forced out of her job after refusing to work on Sundays.
Former Merton care worker Celestina Mba has taken her case to the Court of Appeal after an employment tribunal ruled in Merton Council’s favour saying it was within employment law when it stopped allowing the 58-year-old the Sabbath off work.
Appearing at the court in central London today, judges heard Miss Mba was working at Brightwell Children’s Centre in Morden when the problems began.
Miss Mba, from Mitcham, claims her employers first agreed to not make her work on Sunday due to her beliefs, but within two years the centre had reneged on its promise and were allocating Sunday shifts and threatening her with disciplinary measures unless she agreed to work.
She said she was discriminated against by her employer and effectively was forced out of work.
Merton Council claim it was flexible enough and would never have stopped Miss Mba exercising her beliefs and going to church.
Speaking outside the court today Miss Mba said; “This was never about going to church. Sunday is a day we should be with family and rest. I was happy to work six days a week, just not on a Sunday.
“God created the world in six days, and rested on the Sabbath, and his example is one we should follow.”
The 57-year-old lost an employment tribunal in February 2012 for constructive dismissal after the judge claimed having Sunday's off work was “not a core component of Christian faith”.
On December 13 that year, the decision was upheld Mr Justice Langstaff at the High Court. But now, nearly a year on, Miss Mba returned to the Strand to have her case heard at the Court of Appeal. Acting on her behalf Paul Diamond told judges that Miss Mba’s case was one of “human dignity” and cited the case of Nadia Eweida the British Airways employee who was banned from wearing a crucifix at work.
He said that since the case “religious rights had been elevated to sexual identity status or political viewpoint”.
He told the court when Miss Mba had taken the job she “believed her religious beliefs would be accommodated in full”.
Jake Davies, acting on behalf of Merton Council, said there had been a reasonable accommodation of the employee and her beliefs.
Having heard the evidence the judges will have 12 weeks to deliver a verdict.
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