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Devout Christian forced to resign after refusing Sunday work

TRIBUNAL: Celestina Mba

A DEVOUT Christian was forced from her job as a care worker after refusing to work on Sundays for religious reasons, a tribunal heard yesterday.

Celestina Mba, 57, claims she was threatened with disciplinary action after telling her employer church duties were her priority.

Miss Mba claims that Merton council unlawfully discriminated against despite granting a Muslim colleague time off to visit the mosque on Fridays.

The 57-year-old claims she was ‘pushed out’ of her job as a care officer at Brightwell’s Children’s Home in Meron, south London and was forced to resign.

“I was willing to work at any unsocial time of shift in order to preserve my Sundays. I was prepared to work nights, or Saturdays,” she said.

She continued: “I would have been willing to consider any hours of work, or even a reduction in pay. I believe that my employer did not want to compromise and saw the issue as a question of management power with disrespect to the Christian faith. I have been treated very badly.”

Miss Mba, who says her manager, John Deegan, initially said he could ‘work around’ her request to worship on Sundays, is suing Merton council for constructive dismissal on the grounds of religious discrimination.

The tribunal heard she arranged shift swaps with colleagues, only for this to be blocked by management.

In January 2010, Miss Mba was called to a disciplinary hearing after refusing to work a Sunday shift she had not obtained cover for. She resigned four months later and has not been able to find work since.

Andrea Williams, of the Christian Legal Centre, which is fighting Miss Mba’s claim, said: "This is another example of Christianity being marginalised in public life. The issue could have been easy to resolve by way of a common sense approach."

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