Christian worker fired after refusing to work during church's Sunday service

Country: United Kingdom

Date of incident: November 5, 2023

Former employee of Sainsbury's Jacqueline Rendell is suing the supermarket chain for "unfair dismissal" alleging she was fired for refusing to work on Sunday mornings so she could attend Sunday services at church. She claims the supermarket chain fired her because she refused demands to work every Sunday morning.

Mrs Rendell had been working at Sainsbury's in Whitstable for 20 years when in October 2021 "Sainsbury’s engaged so-called ‘fire and rehire’ tactics - a practice in which an employer dismisses a worker and offers them a new contract on different, often less-favourable terms." reads Kent Online news website. In the new contract she was offered, Rendell had no possibility to attend the Sunday service. She proposed a job share arrangement with a colleague to allow her to go to church, but this was rejected by Sainsbury’s management.

Since then, she has been trying to prove in an employment tribunal that she was unfairly dismissed from her position as a commercial assistant, in an attempt to get her job back. Sainsbury's representatives said during a hearing last week that the change in their schedule was necessary due to staff shortages, and that budget constraints prevented them from hiring at the time. Alternative roles were also offered to Mrs Rendell, but she claims none of the proffered jobs were suitable.

Judgement has been reserved and is expected to be issued in the coming weeks.