Christian woman Celestina Mba loses legal challenge over right not to work on Sundays

Celestina Mba said bosses must ‘reasonably accommodate’ employees’ religious believes

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The Independent Online

A devout Christian woman has lost her legal fight to not work on Sundays.

Celestina Mba, 58, lost her job as a children’s care worker with Merton Council after bosses said they could not guarantee that she would not be put on Sunday shifts.

She argued she should be free to obey the Fourth Commandment in the Bible and rest and pray on the Sabbath, and that an employer has a duty to “reasonably accommodate” the religious beliefs of an employee. In her case, this meant allowing her to observe the Sabbath as a day of rest.

Ms Mba had already lost a case for constructive dismissal against Merton Council, and sought to have the decision of that employment tribunal overturned.

But appeal judges Lord Justice Maurice Kay, Lord Justice Elias and Lord Justice Vos, while ruling that the tribunal had to some extent erred in law, unanimously agreed that this did not mean that Mrs Mba's appeal should be allowed.

Since leaving Merton Council, Ms Mba has found a new job in Surbiton, southwest London, in which she is allowed to take Sundays and Mondays off.

Before the case, she told The Sunday Times: “We have so many different faiths in this society. I am standing up for my beliefs, not for anybody else’s. I am not imposing them on anybody else."

The council said it was pleased with the outcome of the Court of Appeal hearing.

According to the BBC, Merton Council leader Stephen Alambritis said: "Children in local authority care who have severe disabilities and who need weekend support, and their families who rely on this support, can feel reassured that their children's care and support will be consistent.

"Wherever possible, we accommodate our employees' needs and requirements."