$40,000 for man sacked because of his religious beliefs

A Seventh Day Adventist man has been awarded $40,000 after he was fired as a result of his religious beliefs.

He had refused to work on Saturdays because it was against his faith.

Mark Meulenbroek had worked since 2004 at an Invercargill company that installed TV and audio systems, and was considered a model employee.

In 2011, he rejoined the Seventh Day Adventist Church which he’d attended until he was 16, and wanted to have Saturday off so he could observe the Sabbath.

Meulenbroek’s boss gave him some Saturdays off, but not all, and in September 2012 fired him when he refused to work on the Sabbath.

The Human Rights Review Tribunal found his employer had discriminated against Meulenbroek and had no appreciation of his obligations under the Human Rights Act.

Director of the Office of Human Rights Proceedings Robert Kee, who represented Meulenbroek, says the case is an important warning for small-to-medium businesses which – like Vision – might not be aware of their Human Rights Act obligations.

If someone believes they are discriminated against in their employment, they have the choice of taking proceedings before the Human Rights Review Tribunal or the Employment Relations Authority.

It is not unusual for people to claim discrimination on grounds of age or race. Proceedings based on religious belief are much less common.


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News category: New Zealand.

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