London Homelessness Prevention Officer Suspended for Mentioning Faith

Country: United Kingdom

Date of incident: January 29, 2009

Category: Government Restrictions

Attack against: Faith

Area of case: Private / Workplace



A homelessness prevention officer with Wandsworth Council has been suspended from work for nearly two months for encouraging a homeless woman with an incurable medical condition to look to God for help.

A homelessness prevention officer with Wandsworth Council has been suspended from work for nearly two months for encouraging a homeless woman with an incurable medical condition to look to God for help, after doctors told her they’d given up hope.
Duke Amachree, aged 53 who has worked for the local authority for almost 18 years was suspended on 28 January 2009 for discussing his faith with a client, and was told in an investigatory interview on 17 March that he should not raise the issue of religion at work. Not only was Mr Amachree told it was inappropriate to ‘ever talk about God’, he was also told that he may not even say ‘God bless’.
Mr Amachree, a member of the UK World Evangelism Church in London, was summoned to an interview as a result of a complaint made against him by a member of the public.
Mr Michael Phillips, a solicitor working with the Christian Legal Centre, which was consulted by the worker, said: “On 26 January, Mr Amachree met a client who was due to be moved out of her home because her landlord wished to sell the property. Doctors had told the client that she had an incurable illness and, as such, could only work part time. In general conversation, Mr Amachree asked the lady why she believed her condition was incurable, and in encouragement, commented that sometimes doctors do not have all the answers. So concerned was he that the lady was in despair and without hope, he suggested she put her faith in God. The lady, however, explained that she had tried religion and because she did not have any faith she was satisfied with what the doctors had told her and was able to move on. She smiled, thanked Mr Amachree and left.”
Two days later Mr Amachree was handed a letter informing him that a service user (the lady) had made serious allegations against him and he was therefore suspended.
Mr Phillips, who was present at the meeting, added: “On 17 March, Mr Amachree’s employers told him that ‘God had to be kept out of the workplace’. He was accused of crossing boundaries. The issue of religion, according to the interviewer, should not be raised in a housing issue. Mr Phillips, on behalf of Mr Amachree, queried this statement by asking if ‘God bless’ would be an appropriate comment. He was told that it would not be appropriate and that any complaint would again lead to an investigation.”
Mr Amachree took legal action against the Council. His claim is that their decision effectively ‘privatises’ Christian faith and is against his human rights.
In August 2010 an Employment Tribunal ruled he had been fairly dismissed. At the hearing, Wandsworth Council said Ms X complained that she faced a "30 minute barrage" from the advisor during which she was also told not to bother with doctors. The London South employment tribunal, which heard the case in June and July, ruled the dismissal was "fair" and there was no discrimination on the grounds of his religion.
Source and further information: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-10935390
We thank the Christian Legal Center for this report. Please visit: www.christianlegalcentre.com