Christian Worker Sacked For Wearing Crucifix Awarded £22,000

A factory worker has won more than £22,000 in compensation after he was fired for refusing to remove a crucifix necklace. Jevgenijs Kovalkovs sued the owner of the factory where he worked for religious discrimination after he was fired on the spot for refusing to take it off.

According to The Telegraph:

Kovalkovs said wearing the cross, which was a gift from his mother, signified a “commitment to his belief”.

However, he was asked to take it off by his line manager, as she felt it was a “hazard” at the chicken wholesalers where he worked, an employment tribunal heard.

Mr Kovalkovs, a member of the Russian Orthodox Church, was later seen wearing it again at the factory but refused to take off the jewellery, which had a “deep and profound meaning” to him.

He was then fired on the spot for disobeying orders. He sued the company and has now been awarded £22,074.68, after the tribunal found the policy and its application was “indirectly discriminatory”.

The hearing was told Mr Kovalkovs joined 2 Sisters Food Group Limited in Coupar Angus, Scotland in November 2019 and was promoted to the role of quality inspector.

The hearing, held in Dundee, heard Mr Kovalkovs wore the silver necklace, which had 30 small links, every day and that it had been sanctified during a baptism ceremony for his godchild.

However, the company’s foreign body control policy stated: “Jewellery must not be worn in the production areas on site, with the exception of a single plan band ring.”

A further exception was made for religious jewellery, subject to a “risk assessment”, the panel heard.

On the first day of his promotion in December 2019, his line manager, named in the tribunal judgment only as Ms McColl, noticed the necklace and told him to take it off, which he did.

However, she did not carry out a risk assessment as she felt the issue had been dealt with, the panel heard.

Mr Kovalkovs then made a complaint about being bullied at work and was brought in for a meeting with another manager in January 2020, where he wore the necklace.

He was asked to remove it and then questioned whether a risk assessment had been carried out, which he said had not, the tribunal was told.

His line manager was said to be “embarrassed” that this issue had been raised with her own boss, but completed the risk assessment.

Mr Kovalkovs went back to work before he was told to go and speak to Ms McColl, who concluded it must be removed because it contained links and could become tangled or trapped, the hearing was told.

She then told him to take it off. However, he refused and was sent to HR. He was told that as he had not obeyed a management instruction and was in his probationary period, his employment was ended “immediately”.

Upholding his claims, Employment Judge Louise Cowen concluded that it was clear Mr Kovalkovs “had lost a job as a result of the discrimination towards him”.

She added: “His religion and the wearing of his necklace were of deep and profound meaning to him.”

 

 

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Aldo

Wow, didn’t know that there were vampires working in Scotland.

Excuse me while I don an Ichthus, Star of David, roll up a prayer mat and sheath a Kirpan at work as you can’t be too careful. Quadruple payments ahoy!

Adam

Cases like this prove how precarious life can be for ordinary people. Workers have fewer rights than many of us would assume.

bod

I was battered in town in 2000 I won 7000 in damages cus it made me permanently deaf and agoraphobic.. but its okay…. you got your cross… cus jesus would be well happy you are wearing a symbol of what he was killed on lmao…………. reality breakdown.

Kevin

I am a former copper miner. I had to explain to my now, ex-wife why I didn’t wear my wedding ring to work. I am Christian but I disagree with the use of images so I wouldn’t be wearing a cross anyway but I understand why some may want to. I still wouldn’t wear one to work.

It is a contentious issue but jewelry of any kind in a factory or business with moving machinery is just bad safety practice and most will prohibit it. I agree and there is safety data to support the rule.

Last edited 13 days ago by Kevin
Craig

While a person’s faith can have a ‘deep and profound meaning’, it could be argued that a piece of jewellry is merely a symbolic representation of that faith and should not be confused with the belief itself.
A wedding ring is much the same thing: a symbolism of vows given, not the actual vows.

Mr Kovalkovs could just as easily attach the cross to his keyring or keep it safely wrapped in a pocket. It would still retain its meaning and would still be with him.

Or he could get it tattooed as a permanent symbol of his belief.

Abdel

It’s pretty obvious to me that the guy had been singled out, it doesn’t matter if he was picked on because of religion or any other reason such as ethnicity. It’s a clear case of unfair constructive dismissal.

Last edited 13 days ago by Abdel
Vikki

I’ve long worked in hospitality as a chef and it’s a given that jewellery shouldn’t be worn when working with food whether it be production or serving.
It’s both for food hygiene or personal safety reasons.
This is yet another case of some person playing the discriminated victim for financial gain and pure bloody mindedness imo.

Urban Fox

In the 80tis i worked at a very old yet elegant hotel on the North West coast of England. Thats nineteen eighty’s, not eighteen eighties. Above the reception area there was a wide balcony that ran round the first floor of the hotel. That had been subsiding for years, and had got so bad that it had developed a steep slant. So much so that guests and staff had to be careful to stay on the wall side of the floor, in case they fell over the balcony. We had to carefully lift trolleys laden with food and crockery along the balcony, for fear of them rolling down the hill, crashing over the low banister and landing on the heads of the guests in the reception area below. I cant recall ever hearing the mention of a risk assessment. Everybody including the guests knew it was dangerous, but didn’t seem to care. On the contrary everyone thought it was hilarious.

With the health and safety culture we have today, perhaps on this occasion, the cross story really was to do with safety concerns. However the completely over the top safety culture, could be said to be a contrived agenda in itself. Designed to make people continuously fearful of every aspect of life. If the last two years was anything to go by, if seems to have worked. With people alone in their cars or walking in the park still a common site around where i live.

I was reminded reading Richie’s article, about him talking about the ” Final destination films” the other day. Maybe the manager had a vision of a bolt of lightening striking the factory roof. Causing a stack of boxes packed with chicken Kiev’s to come crashing down on Kova, knocking him into the path of a giant food processor. His cross then gets caught in the spinning blades, pulling him in head first. Blending him into a pulp, and accidently creating a new product called Kova Kiev. Its possible, i mean stranger things have happened right.

For many years there have been policy’s with certain company’s, and laws in certain country’s that have stated, there should be be no outward displays of religious or spiritual symbolism. So i suspect that this has as much to do with attacking faith and spirituality , as it does about safety concerns.

Jennie

I remember a while back children were stopped playing conkers on safety grounds. Never in all my life have I heard of anyone being injured by a conker.

Craig

There were always the tiny number of kids who would wield a conker on a string like a weapon, intent on causing harm. But those cases were dealt with individually, rather than everyone paying the penalty.

When I was a kid I can’t remember anyone who hadn’t lost skin and blood, gotten torn or sprained muscles, gotten plenty of bruises, or lost teeth or gotten broken bones in the pursuit of fun.
We didn’t consider risk, but we did suffer consequence if things went awry. And we usually repeated the things that injured us.
Adults consider risk (often far too much), but the more life experience we have, the more able we are to assess the risks if we choose.
Much of the problem for kids, in my opinion, are overly cautious and risk averse adults.
And much of the problem for adults is a risk averse litigation culture given credence by insurance companies.

Jennie

Absolutely true. As kids we did things that would absolutely horrify the health and safety authorities of today. But as you rightly say if you never encounter risk growing up how do you learn to cope with it. That’s the problem with some teens and twenties today, they have been so protected and so coddled that they can’t cope. Mind you with what lies ahead of us they are going to have to quickly learn to cope.

Urban Fox

But will they,? As Orwell said in his book 1984 ” There will come a time soon, when people will stop asking were things any better before the war. As they will no longer remember things had ever been any different.”

Urban Fox

Hi Jennie, The school i went to, we probably hit each other with them deliberately. Kova Kiev : } No? Oh well, i made myself laugh. Classic Emmerdale has just come on TV. They just showed the strange graphic image, advert program link, that i told Richie about. Of a woman with a test tube in a lab coat, and what looks like a virus dividing. Richie wasn’t sure if i was making it up. But they are still showing it, 2 years now. What it has to do with Emmerdale , is anybody’s guess.

Craig

There are all sorts of jobs where the wearing of jewellry (even wedding rings) isn’t permitted, and it’s usually on legitimate safety grounds. I see no reason why jewellry with religious iconography should be exempt from this.

That said, immediate dismissal for non-compliance with such a work based practice is certainly an extreme response and doesn’t follow standard employment procedures that require a series of disciplinaries and attempted resolutions.

So I could understand a simple court ruling for unfair dismissal; but if no one else is permitted to wear jewellry, then I would fail to see where the discimination comes into it. If anything, given the information in the article, it is all the other staff who may like to wear jewellry (but can’t) who are being discriminated against with this ruling.

Jennie

If he was using machinery where the cross could be a danger then fair enough but if not then it was pure bullying. I’ve worked for employers who have imposed ridiculous restrictions just because they can to show their authority while at the same time refused to bring in sensible rules.

Craig

There are certainly plenty of that type of employer, and I’ve locked horns with a few of them over the years.

Robert Klinck

There are plenty of this type of PERSON everywhere in society. The COVID tyrants found thousands of such bullying virtue signallers to surveil normal people and enforce nonsensical rules on them. Insignificant busybodies crave their moment in the sun at the expense of others.

angelseal

The Christian community should heed Ritchies stock advice and ‘run it off’
No one was hurt.

Mark

On the face of this I don’t see that the firm has done anything wrong if he’s working in a food production area with machinery. This is common practice for very obvious reasons. But then I suppose there is another story behind this story, doubtless the devil is in the detail.

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