Vicar’s appeal that dismissal was discriminatory as based on the breakdown of his marriage, dismissed


Re: Jonathan Gould v St John’s Downshire Hill UKEAT/0002/20/BA

The vicar of an evangelical Christian church, who was dismissed in August 2016, alleged that his dismissal was because of the breakdown of his marriage and that his dismissal amounted to marriage discrimination and was unfair. The Employment Tribunal found, on the evidence, that the reason for dismissal was a loss of trust and confidence in him.

Held: although the Claimant’s discrimination claim might have succeeded if the decision to dismiss him had been significantly influenced by a belief that a minister cannot continue to serve if their marriage breaks down, or if they would not have been dismissed in the same circumstances had they not been married, the Employment Tribunal had been entitled to find as a fact that this was not what had happened. As a matter of law, therefore, this was not a case of marriage discrimination. The appeal against the finding that the dismissal was fair was premised on there being an error of law in relation to the discrimination claim and it therefore also failed.

Karon Monaghan QC was involved in this case.