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Wrongful Dismissal: Christian Counsellor Loses Gay Therapy Appeal

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An evangelical Christian relationship counsellor who refused to offer therapy to gay couples has lost his unfair dismissal appeal.

Gary McFarlane, 47, from Bristol, worked for the publicly-funded national counselling service and was sacked last year after he said he could not do anything to promote gay sex and "encourage sin."

After being fired, Mr. McFarlane lodged a claim for , , and  against  for failing to accommodate his faith or allow him to try to overcome his reservations.

 admitted  for failing to provide a proper notice period.  But the employment tribunal rejected Mr. McFarlane's claims of  and .  Mr. McFarlane then appealed to an Employment Appeals Tribunal.

Responding to the decision,  chief executive Claire Tyler said:

"The appeal judgement validates 's commitment to equality of access to our services.

"'s trusted service, both in Avon and across the country, relies on making sure that all members of society, regardless of their , , , , , are able to access respectful and professional counselling and sex therapy.

" is committed to supporting all religious beliefs working within .

"However, our primary consideration is to our clients who often need complex advice and assistance.

"We cannot allow anything to damage our clients, or to undermine the principle of trust that underpins our work."

What is wrongful dismissal?

 arises when an employer breaches a term of a , which results in dismissal or forces an employee to leave. 

Certain terms are automatically imposed into our employment contracts by operation of law.  For example, the duty to to comply with statutory disciplinary or grievance procedures.  Where an employer breaches these terms, it may be liable for .

An employer may only dismiss an employee without notice - summary dismissal - if the employee commits a serious breach of the contract, for example assaulting a colleague.

It is worth noting that dismissal can be both and :  for wrongful dismissal, however, there is no service qualification period for making a claim (unlike ).  Note also, that any money received for will usually be cancelled out by the amount received for , and vice versa, to stop the employee receiving double compensation.

Additional Information & Advice

You can obtain further information about , and  on .

Depending on the circumstances of your case, however, it may be better to speak with a .  You can be , which can also help you to understand the best course of action for your situation and whether you are ready to hire a solicitor.

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