Thursday, 10 June 2021
Muslim receptionist who sued NHS for racial discrimination over claims she was mocked for refusing to sign colleague's birthday card on religious grounds has case dismissed

From the Daily Mail

A Muslim NHS receptionist who sued the health service after she refused to sign a birthday card for a colleague because 'birthdays were against her religion' has had her case dismissed.

Samira Duhulow, in her 20s, claimed she was discriminated against by her boss at London's Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, who criticised her for not signing a birthday card.

The practising Sunni Muslim said she had been ridiculed for refusing to sign the card because birthdays were against her beliefs.

Now an employment tribunal has dismissed all of her claims, concluding that her colleagues did not know that her refusal to celebrate birthdays had anything to do with her religion.

Instead, a judge ruled she had tried to 'shoehorn' her grievances at work into allegations of discrimination.

The hearing was told that nine months into the role she signed a 50th birthday card for boss Natalie Williams. While she raised no objection at the time to her colleagues, she told the tribunal that she felt 'pressurised' to sign because she was a 'new' employee.

Ms Williams told the tribunal that she started to 'experience difficulties' with Ms Duhulow in 2018 such as not saying hello in the morning and Ms Duhulow refusing to open an office door, leaving her trapped when the digital lock was not working. One particular incident involved Ms Duhulow refusing to sign the birthday card for her colleague Wendy Murray.

Ms Williams said that Ms Duhulow was not pulling her weight, there was a perception of walking on eggshells around her, a bad vibe and described her as being 'very rude and blank' for not signing Ms Murray's birthday card.

Ms Williams responded by saying: 'Oh you are being petty, oh come on grow up, you're being petty.'

The tribunal heard that Ms Duhulow later claimed to senior colleagues that it was her 'personal preference' to not celebrate birthdays, adding: 'I have the right to choose what celebrations I partake in and expecting me to celebrate birthdays infringes on this right.'

Following a series of unproductive discussions to try and resolve the conflict, Ms Duhlow - who still works at the trust - decided to go ahead and launch a claim of racial discrimination against her employers. However, she was unsuccessful in her claims of direct discrimination, harassment and victimisation . . . 

Employment Judge Richard Nicolle said there was 'no evidence that she protested that it was contrary to her religious faith' to sign the card. . . We do not accept that [Ms Duhulow] was reprimanded, or ridiculed, for not celebrating birthdays. We consider that [Ms Duhulow] undoubtedly had/has many unresolved grievances relating to her work. [She] has in our view attempted to shoehorn these individual grievances into allegations of discrimination.'

Posted on 06/10/2021 11:42 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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