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Supermarket workers win religious discrimination compensation

Supermarket workers win religious discrimination compensation
Two Muslim workers at a Tesco distribution centre in Northamptonshire have won a religious discrimination case.

Abdirisak Aden and Mahamed Hasan, both 27-years-old, were part of a contingent of devout followers of Islam who had asked the grocery giant to put a prayer room in place for them to complete their rituals since 2006.

After two years, bosses at the distribution centre decided to set aside a security office at the site as a place of worship and this allowed the personnel to finally practice their right to pray up to four times a day.

But in 2013, executives set new restrictions on the prayer rooms and kept it locked whenever it wasn't used, forcing staff members to tell managers whenever they were going to use the facility and enforcing a policy of signing a book every time they went inside.

Personnel were also told they were not allowed to worship in groups and had to go inside one at a time and this represented a restriction on their right to freely practice their religion in the workplace.

After a trial that saw Tesco fight back against the claims, Bedford Employment Tribunal found Tesco guilty of indirect discrimination and awarded Mr Aden and Mr Hasan an undisclosed compensation lump sum to redress "injuries to their feelings".

A spokesperson for the grocer commented: "We take our responsibilities as an equal opportunities employer very seriously. We are considering the implications of the judge’s ruling and await the full written judgment."

While Tesco normally has, in the past, been praised for its approach to equality rights, as is normal for most large corporations, in this case it neglected its duty to accommodate for the religious needs of two of its workers.

Mr Hasan and Mr Aden's legal counsel commented on the duo's victory by saying: "This case is a victory not only for Muslims, but for all people who wish to pray while at work. It is one of the first religious discrimination cases that Muslim complainants have won in Britain."

By Francesca Witney