A Christian care worker has lost a Court of Appeal case over being forced to work on Sundays by her employer.
According to the National Secular Society, 58-year-old Celestina Mba, a Baptist Christian and mother of three, took Merton Council in London to an employment tribunal after she was told to work full weekends and bank holidays when necessary.
Mba argued she should not have to work on Sundays and be free to obey the Fourth Commandment in the Bible, and rest and pray on the Sabbath.
Mba asked appeal judges, Lord Justice Maurice Kay, Lord Justice Elias and Lord Justice Vos, to overturn an employment appeal tribunal ruling dismissing her claim for constructive dismissal against Merton Council, the Press Association reported.
The three appeal judges said the tribunal had to a certain extent made “legal errors,” but it does not mean Mba’s appeal should be allowed.
“We lost the appeal, but I am thrilled we have made progress,” said Mba, who now helps young girls who have been in care and had children.
"Merton disrespected my Christian faith,” she adds. “I said to the court that the council would not treat other faiths like they treat Christians. If they really needed someone to work on a Sunday, they should have recruited that person and I would have been glad to leave."
Mba previously worked at Brightwell Respite Care House for three years helping kids who have severe learning difficulties.
According to the BBC, she told the tribunal she was ready to work Saturday and night shifts, or accept less pay to be able to observe Sunday as the day of rest. But the council said it had a duty to care for children on weekends and there was no alternative.
"Children in local authority care who have severe disabilities and who need weekend support, and their families who rely on this support, can feel reassured that their children's care and support will be consistent,” Merton Council leader Stephen Alambritis told the BBC. “Wherever possible, we accommodate our employees' needs and requirements.”
Andrea Minichiello Williams, barrister and director of the Christian Legal Centre, which is backing Mba, said:
"Celestina Mba was popular and highly respected amongst colleagues and the children for whom she cared.
"She loved her job and she has paid a high price for her Christian faith."