The “It would do the Muslim community no good,

The Equality Act 2010 protects individuals from direct and indirect discrimination by association, perception and, from nine protected characteristics. One Being Religion and Belief, this essay will discuss whether courts and tribunals severely limits the effectiveness of the legislation and focus on the discriminatory actions that are targeted at conducts. 
In order to explore religion and belief we must identify the legal understanding. Under Equality Act the law merely states s.10 (1) “Religion means any religion and a reference to religion includes a reference to a lack of religion” and s.10 (2) “Belief means any religious or philosophical belief and a reference to belief includes a reference to a lack of belief.” Both Religion and Belief are difficult to define perhaps this is the reason why courts take the view that the act does not cover discriminatory actions for conduct because religion and belief is so broad. Courts are left to define religion and belief on the basis of case law, this is also the reason to why it took several years to enforce religious discrimination, the case Hepple and Choudhury 2001, clearly shows that the anti-discrimination legislation is needed to be reformed.
  The case Ahmad v ILEA is an example of the attitudes of employers prior to the Equality Act 2010, and how some of these attitudes still exist with the act being legalized. Mr. Ahmad had limited protection against religious discrimination. Mr. Ahmad required a long lunch hour on Fridays to attend his local mosque to pray.  Lord denning had rejected this idea stating that “It would do the Muslim community no good, if they were to be given preferential treatment over the great majority of people.” Although Lord Denning makes a rational point to keep all communities equal, it does not allow Muslim’s or other faiths and beliefs with specific observances the freedom to follow what they believe. This statement eliminates individuals from spirituality and a need for purpose, or guidance. It is important to respect this in all environments including the workplace. Lord Scarman acknowledges this he says, “Room has to be found for teachers and pupils of the new religion in the educational system, if discrimination is to be avoided”.  Which shows that employers/employees beliefs and their observances should be accommodated otherwise they will suffer discrimination. 
In the case Cherfi v G4S Security Services 2011, it shows a reflection of how ineffective the equality act has become within one year of it being enforced, especially comparing this particular case to Ahmad v ILEA, which considers Muslims to have longer lunch breaks on Friday.  Mr. Cherfi had claimed constructive dismissal on the basis that he was required to work Friday lunchtimes, the Equality act 2010 does not oblige employers to provide time off for prayer or religious observance, nor does it change an employees working timetable to allow prayer at specific times of the day. The equality act only protects individuals from direct and indirect discrimination. Direct discrimination is where a person is treated less favorably for example if a person holds a particular religion or belief or not having one, In Mr. Cherfi’ s case this was not direct discrimination but it could be claimed as Indirect Discrimination, which occurs when a company’s practices, policies or procedures effect or disadvantage people with particular protected characteristics. The defendant argued that it was objectively justified, Mr. Cherfi needed to comply with the contractual obligations and that it would not be reasonable to provide cover for the claimant during lunchtime. The court has rejected Mr. Cherfi claim, indicating that It was proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim for the operational desires for the defendant’s business. Mr. Cherfi also claimed that the defendant was not letting him leave the premises suggesting that it was simply by reference to cost.  However, this was also denied by the court which decided that cost alone would not be considered to be a sufficient justification for discrimination. The image which the equality act portrays to “legally protect people from discrimination” is a facade as it is failing to protect people within the workplace. In order to develop the Equality Act 2010, it must refine the act so that it covers all aspects of conduct within religion or belief, this will ensure that legislation has a clearer understanding and saves courts and tribunals to constantly rely on case law. 
The Equality Act 2010 was enforced to avoid individuals from facing discrimination due to their religion and belief, having said this although the act is straightforward in theory it is however problematic in practice, as although the act may protect someone from having a religion or a belief or no religion or no belief, it does not give further details to an approach in accordance to Article 9 of the European convention on human rights, for the freedom of thought, conscience and religion, this would include the freedom to manifest a religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance, all conducts which should change the protected characteristics under the equality act 2010. 
An employee’s rights within a workplace can be confused with the Equality Act 2010, especially when it means that they would be compromising their beliefs with business decisions of an employer. One of the controversies in the workplace is dress code. There are several companies who follow a strict policy regarding what employees should wear to either keep a professional and corporate identity or for health and safety reasons. The issue is whether an employer is discriminating under religion and belief due to banning any form of religious symbolism in the workplace, the reasons being that an employer wants to keep the same rule for everybody in order to achieve consistency, with the intention not to discriminate?
An example of a case following whether the Equality Act 2010 is effective for the discriminatory actions targeted at conduct, is Eweida and others v UK (2013) which had regarded four major cases including Eweida and Chaplin and the conflicting rights Mcfarlane and Ladele. The claimant, Ms. Eweida worked for British Airways as a check in clerk, she was not allowed to wear any visible jewelry. Ms. Eweida argued that she should have the rights to wear a crucifix outside of her uniform and believed that the British Airways were discriminating her under religion and belief and even suggesting that the British airways were anti- Christian prejudice or had in fact favored other faiths, for example allowing Muslims and Sikhs to be able to wear the head scarf and turban as these were garments which you could not cover up. Ms. Eweida has won her case due to the fact the British airways had a mere desire to protect its professional image and that the ban on wearing a cross on top of the uniform could not be objectively justified as it did not affect this image and was discreet.
On the other hand, Ms. Chaplin who also claimed the same rights as Ms. Eweida had in fact lost her case due to the fact she was a nurse, the employer had made a reasonable argument that the ban was to prevent the necklace with the crucifix from injuring patients, under health and safety regulation. Within these circumstances an employer would not be indirectly discriminating as there is a legitimate aim in preventing an employee from wearing specific items that may cause potential danger. In the case R (begum) v head teacher and governors of Denbigh High school (2006), Hill, (2013) comments that an employer’s defense of asserting a view with restrictions and no alternatives will no longer be available but rather that a “better approach would be to weigh that possibility in the overall balance when considering whether or not the restriction was proportionate”. This shows that there are improvements of the Equality Act as employers would need to consider how proportionate it is before restricting rules within the workplace. 
A common issue in the work place are dietary requirements, which is a conduct within several religions and beliefs, the equality act makes no specific reference to what is required from an employer and employee in terms of storing and heating food that may need to be done separately from other foods, for example Muslims will request that their food is not in contact with pork by any means. A case regarding religious discrimination is Chatwal v Wandsworth Borough Council 2011. The claimant was Sikh and was not supposed to have direct or indirect contact with meat or meat products as this would violate his religious beliefs. A condition was urged to employee’s that they must clean the communal kitchen otherwise they will be banned to use the kitchen facilities. The claimant had refused to clean the Fridge as he did not want to risk contact with meat products and was suspended and eventually dismissed. Mr Chatwals claim had failed as he did not indicate the burden of proving that the prohibition on touching meat was the same for a substantial group of Sikhs who were also disadvantaged in order for the tribunal to support his case. 
Having said this there was a minority of Sikhs who shared this belief, for example within Mr Chatwal’s evidence, a letter from the religious centre clearly stated that “requirement of Sikh religion must be avoided.” In addition, evidence from two experts in Sikh religion stated that “GNNSJ-branch members would feel polluted if they came into contact with meat”. The tribunal had failed to address this evidence of those who might hold the same beliefs as Mr Chatwal and as a result the claim was dismissed. From this case it is obvious that employers are not given clear guidance under the Equality Act 2010, the employer could have looked for an alternative solution for Mr Chatwal’s beliefs, for example to allow other parts of the kitchen to be cleaned or a separate cleaning duty. A policy where all food is to be stored in sealed containers and shelves that are separately labelled “meat” and “Vegetarian”. This would prevent any discriminatory actions against employers if they approved the requirements for people with religion or belief.  
Finally, the last issue that is to be highlighted with the concerns of discriminatory actions for conduct motivated by belief, is to what extent can a philosophical belief be proven? The recent case Harron v Chief Constable of Dorset Police 2016 focuses on the notion that “public service was improperly wasteful of money”, due to the claimant working in the police force he felt obliged to declare these views which he consequently suffered discrimination on the grounds of his philosophical belief. The claim had failed as it did not meet the five elements expressed in the case Grainger plc v Nicholson 2010. The claimant had appealed on the foundation of the term “Philosophical” and deemed that the scope of belief was restrained to a higher level in that it would need to qualify the Grainger 2010 criteria. It is also argued that European courts do not require the belief to be a philosophical one. The claimants appeal was rejected due to the uncertainty on whether this was a valid belief, moreover whether the current ideas of belief are too narrow and that there is no scope for protecting the claimant’s belief.  This case ultimately shows the lack of clarification to where a belief applies, relying on the case law Grainger, makes it difficult for new beliefs whether that be philosophical or scientific, room must be available for modern day beliefs. 
To conclude, there are several cases that concern discriminatory conduct for religion and belief, however due to the lack of clarification within the Equality Act 2010, it does not give a clear understanding of the different conducts within religion and belief. This conflicts in a workplace environment as employers are not guided to what conducts are considered as discriminatory. It would also allow employers to find solutions in order to prevent discriminatory actions before it going to court.