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Saturday, 17 November 2012

UK: Man Demoted for His Christian Views Wins under £100 in Compensation Case

A country where you can demote an employee because he does not share your views and get away with it - Mr Smith remains in his demoted position - is getting dangerously close to a totalitarian state where there is control over what people may or may not think.

We can jokingly call it "political correctness" but it is deadly serious.

My definition of political correctness is this: the orthodoxy, namely the ideology that is dominant in both senses of the term - dominant because most widespread, and dominant because it is imposed with non-democratic means, through the use of force.

What I find most ironic is that the people who hold politically correct views and force everyone else to embrace them are the very same people who are horrified at the Counter-Reformation times' Catholic Church's use of dogma and heresy as a way of controlling ideas and hence people.

The only difference between the methods used by the masters of PC and the Inquisition is that in the intervening centuries the penal system of punishment has changed and instead of torture and burning at stake we have destructions of heretics' careers and livelihoods.
A Christian who was demoted for posting his opposition to gay marriage on Facebook will receive less than £100 compensation after winning his legal action for breach of contract.

Adrian Smith, 55, lost his managerial position, had his salary cut by 40% and was given a final written warning by Trafford Housing Trust (THT) after posting that gay weddings in churches were "an equality too far".

The comments were not visible to the general public, and were posted outside work time, but the trust said he broke its code of conduct by expressing religious or political views which might upset co-workers
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To be allowed to upset or offend is the essence of freedom of speech: there is no call for restriction on expression that does not offend anyone.
Mr Justice Briggs, in London's High Court, said the trust did not have a right to demote Mr Smith as his Facebook postings did not amount to misconduct. He added that the postings were not - viewed objectively - judgmental, disrespectful or liable to cause upset or offence, and were expressed in moderate language.

As for their content, they were widely held views frequently to be heard on radio and television, or read in the newspapers. He said he had "real disquiet" about the financial outcome for Mr Smith, whose compensation was limited to the small difference between his contractual salary and the amount actually paid to him during the 12 weeks following his assumption of his new, but reduced, role.

If Mr Smith had begun proceedings for unfair dismissal in the Employment Tribunal, rather than for breach of contract in the county court, there was every reason to suppose he would have been awarded a substantial sum - but Mr Smith had said that by the time he had raised the necessary funds, the time limit for such proceedings had expired.

The judge said: "Mr Smith was taken to task for doing nothing wrong, suspended and subjected to a disciplinary procedure which wrongly found him guilty of gross misconduct, and then demoted to a non-managerial post with an eventual 40% reduction in salary. The breach of contract which the trust thereby committed was serious and repudiatory. A conclusion that his damages are limited to less than £100 leaves the uncomfortable feeling that justice has not been done to him in the circumstances."

Later, Mr Smith said: "I'm pleased to have won my case for breach of contract today. The judge exonerated me and made clear that my comments about marriage were in no way 'misconduct'. My award of damages has been limited to less than £100. But I didn't do this for the money - I did this because there is an important principle at stake."

Matthew Gardiner, chief executive at Trafford Housing Trust said: "We fully accept the court's decision and I have made a full and sincere apology to Adrian. At the time we believed we were taking the appropriate action following discussions with our employment solicitors and taking into account his previous disciplinary record.

"We have always vigorously denied allegations that the trust had breached an employee's rights to freedom of religious expression under human rights and equalities legislation and, in a written judgment handed down on 21st March 2012, a district judge agreed that these matters should be struck out. This case has highlighted the challenges that businesses face with the increased use of social media and we have reviewed our documentation and procedures to avoid a similar situation arising in the future. Adrian remains employed by the trust and I am pleased this matter has now concluded."

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