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Summary of key cases - Genuine occupational requirement

An atheist teacher who had applied for a promotion to a pastoral care role in a Roman Catholic school and was rejected was subject to discrimination on religious grounds, since the employer was unable to take advantage of the exemption for statutory authority or demonstrate that there was a genuine occupational requirement that the job holder should be a Catholic.

Although there was an agreement between the employer and the RC church that certain roles should be the preserve of Catholics this was found to fall short of the strict test of statutory authority. In addition, the council could not demonstrate that there was a genuine occupational requirement since teachers who were not Catholics held this post in non-denominational schools.

The EAT judgment in McNab v Glasgow City Council can be downloaded here (PDF format 138K).

EFB comment
As for other strands of discrimination the tests for statutory authority and GOR are stringent and employers seeking to rely on these exemptions need to be certain that this defence will stand up to close examination.