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Cherfi v G4S Security Services Ltd - Muslim taking time off work to attend a mosque [2011] EAT

When determining whether indirect discrimination is justified as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim, a tribunal must objectively balance the discriminatory effects of the condition imposed and the requirements of the party imposing it.  In this case the EAT upheld a tribunal ruling that the indirect discrimination involved in refusing to allow a Muslim security guard to leave a site was justified as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

Mr Cherfi was a security guard, and would leave the site where he worked at Highgate, at Friday lunchtime for about an hour, to attend the Mosque. Although other guards left the site for lunchtime breaks, the manager found out and disciplined Mr Cherfi for unauthorised absence - although subsequently she allowed him to go to prayers. Some 10 months later a new manager told Mr Cherfi he could no longer do this: the contract with the client at the site required attendance all day, including during lunch-breaks, and severe financial penalties - or even loss of the contract altogether - would follow any breach. There was a prayer room on site available to Mr Cherfi.

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