The refusal of a Catholic employee's 5-week holiday to
attend religious festivals was not indirect religious
Mr Gareddu was a practicing Roman Catholic originating from
Sardinia. He worked as an engineer for the London Underground. Mr
Gareddu was contractually entitled to 38 days' holiday per year
inclusive of bank holidays, and in the past he had been permitted
to take 5-week long holidays in summer to return to Sardinia.
A new manager was allocated to Mr Gareddu from March 2013. The
new manager told Mr Gareddu that he would not be permitted to take
5 consecutive weeks' annual leave again in the following year,
and that a limit of 15 consecutive days would apply in future.
Though Mr Gareddu's 2014 break was permitted to go ahead
because it was pre-booked, his request for 5 weeks' leave in
2015 was rejected.
Mr Gareddu challenged that refusal on the basis that it was
indirectly discriminatory on the basis of his religion. He argued
that he utilised the 5-week holiday to attend 17 or 18 ancient
Roman Catholic festivals in Sardinia held in and around August each
year, and that London Underground's 3-week limit therefore put
him at a particular disadvantage compared to those without the same
The Employment Appeal Tribunal rejected Mr Gareddu's
argument and agreed with the Employment Tribunal's decision
that he had not been discriminated against. Evidence elicited at
trial showed that Mr Gareddu had not attended any festivals whilst
in Sardinia in 2014 due to injury, and in 2013 had only attended 9
of the 17 or 18 festivals he stated were important to his beliefs.
The EAT accepted that it was not a problem for Mr Gareddu to have
mixed motivations for taking the 5-week holiday, so the benefit of
seeing his family did not defeat his claim; however, the notion
that he was required to attend the full regimen of festivals each
year did not appear to be a genuine reason for his holidays.
In this case, had the need to attend the festivals been found to
be a genuine reason for the need to take an extended holiday, the
disadvantage to Mr Gareddu may have been made out. However, it may
then have been possible for London Underground to assert that their
decision was justified as a proportionate means of achieving a
Gareddu v London Underground Ltd UKEAT/0086/16
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