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Is it legal to discriminate against religious charities?

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  • Is it legal to discriminate against religious charities?


    I was searching for advice about this issue and I came across this forum. My question in the title of the thread relates to the provision of a subscription service, where a provider advertises a (large) discount for non-profit organisations. As a manager of such an organisation this is always something attractive for me. However, the provider stipulates the following in relation to the discount:

    Your organization must not be any of the following:
    • ...
    • A church, association of churches, or other religious organization
    • ...

    and then again:

    Additionally, your organization may not do any of the following:
    • ...
    • Promote a particular religious affiliation, dogma, or doctrine as part of its mission or in exchange for its services (being affiliated with a religious organization is not in itself disqualifying)
    (emphasis added)

    Is this not exactly the kind of discrimination that the Equality Act prohibits? Relevant thoughts, comments and questions all welcome. I haven't contacted the provider to ask their opinion yet. I assume they must have considered whether this position is legal.
    Tags: None

  • #2
    Is it a UK based company/service that you wish to subscribe to ? ( just noticing the spelling of 'organization' in the terms you have posted which makes me think it is a US company such as https://get.slack.help/hc/en-us/arti...-for-Charities )

    I asked them ( just on offchance) and got this back which isn't actually any help whatsoever as it repeats the info that is on the page, but does confirm it applies to the UK.

    Thanks so much for taking a moment to reach out today. Yes, the Slack for Nonprofits program is available in the UK. To be eligible, you'd need to hold a valid charity status with a local tax service/charity commission or a local TechSoup Global partner.

    While Churches and religious institutions aren't eligible for the program, being associated with a Church doesn't immediately disqualify you. I'd encourage you to create a Slack workspace and submit your application to see if you're approved (http://slack.com/nonprofit).

    If you have any other questions, please let me know.
    Which I realise doesn't help your actual query on discrimination.

    https://www.employmentcasesupdate.co...aspx?i=ed27626 is a Employment Tribunal Appeal which might be of interest.

    which basically says that because s.27 Victimisation specifically states " is an individual." the other parts apply to organisations/companies etc and not just individuals.

    24. There may also be some help, though this should not be overstated, from what is said at section 142 under Part 10 in relation to discrimination in contracts. The first subsection reads:

    "(1) A term of a contract is unenforceable against a person in so far as it constitutes, promotes or provides for treatment of that or another person that is of a description prohibited by this Act."

    The word "person" in that context appears plainly capable of covering both an individual and a corporation.

    25. As a general conclusion, therefore, there is no obvious reason implicit in the wording of the Equality Act taken as a whole to restrict the wording of "person" to an individual, nor is there, as it seems to me, any particular reason for thinking that the general definition provision which section 13 amounts to should be so read. There is a reference in section 45 to "person" in a context in which, as I have pointed out, it was well understood by the time the Equality Act came to be enacted that an LLP could have a corporate body as one of its members.
    10Religion or belief

    (1)Religion means any religion and a reference to religion includes a reference to a lack of religion.

    (2)Belief means any religious or philosophical belief and a reference to belief includes a reference to a lack of belief.

    (3)In relation to the protected characteristic of religion or belief—

    (a)a reference to a person who has a particular protected characteristic is a reference to a person of a particular religion or belief;

    (b)a reference to persons who share a protected characteristic is a reference to persons who are of the same religion or belief.
    Other than that I don't know but it's a start

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    • #3
      Thank you for that swift and informative reply.

      It is a US company and I did consider whether that made any difference, i.e. whether the law of their own territory is the only relevant one. But surely (clinging onto hope!) that is not the case?

      It seems from the information you referred to that the Equality Act does provide for discrimination against companies. How would one even begin to challenge the provider's position? I note that the advice you received from them was to start using the service then 'submit your application [for the discount] to see if you're approved'! I'm wary of that for 2 reasons; I'm looking to use the service to see if it will benefit us and don't want to get my staff to start only to find out we'll be denied later on and secondly, do I really want to be involved with a company that so openly discriminates against us.

      I'm motivated to explore this issue by both the fact that the service may indeed be of great benefit to us as well as a sense of injustice from reading their terms.


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