Victoria Wasteney, an NHS worker who was suspended from her role as Head of Forensic Occupational Therapy at East London NHS Foundation Trust after being accused of harassment and bullying, will not be allowed to appeal against the decision that she did not face discrimination on the basis of religion.
In 2013, Wasteney was suspended from the role for nine months after being accused of abusing her position within the NHS Trust to impose her evangelical religious views on a subordinate Muslim worker. This included placing her hand on the knee of the female employee and calling upon God to come to her, asking her to pray, and giving her a copy of the book I Dared to Call Him Father, which is about a Muslim woman who converts to Christianity.
Concerns were also raised by other members of staff when Wasteney organised for her church, the Christian Revival Church, to conduct services at the Trust at which patients reported feeling pressured into attending and making donations, and where others’ religious beliefs were treated negatively. A disciplinary hearing at the Trust concluded Wasteney’s behaviour amounted to gross misconduct.
In 2015, an employment tribunal dismissed her claim that her suspension amounted to religious discrimination and in the following year she lost an appeal against this decision. She has now been refused permission to appeal again against the 2016 decision. Her case has been backed by the Christian Legal Centre.
Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson commented, ‘Christian lobby groups have seized upon this case and selectively reported its facts in order to further a false narrative that Christians are the victims of widespread discrimination and persecution in this country, which is simply not the case. When in a professional position of authority, such as Wasteney was, it is clearly not acceptable to pressure, cajole, or impose one’s own religious beliefs upon others. Such behaviour amounts to misconduct and an abuse of her position, for which she was rightly disciplined.’
For further comment or information contact Richy Thompson, Director of Public Affairs and Policy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.
Humanists UK recently changed its name from the British Humanist Association: https://humanism.org.uk/2017/05/22/bha-becomes-humanists-uk/