For hundreds of years, Pagans have been persecuted by the law and people who didn’t understand their way of life and thus hated them for it. In 2013, British courts ruled in favor of a practicing Pagan against her employers with unfair dismissal, sexual and religious discrimination claims, receiving a total of £15,337.12. It is seen as the first ruling of this nature and a welcomed recognition for Pagans and their beliefs.
Karen Holland, aged 45, claimed that she was fired from the shop she was employed at in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, around Halloween after sharing her beliefs in Paganism. She went to the Feast of the Dead which is a traditional Pagan festival around Halloween. Once Gurnam Singh and Tarloch (brothers that owned the store) found out that she was a ‘witch’, they proceeded to ridicule her. They showed a clear disliking to the idea that she was a Pagan. Karen felt alienated by her bosses and shortly after Halloween, she was fired. Her bosses allegedly asked Karen if she rode around on a broom among other things, which they later denied saying. She said that she was made to feel that she had done something wrong just for following what she believed in.
Tarloch and Gurnam Singh claimed that she had been caught stealing a lottery ticket and magazine on camera, but later when asked to provide evidence, they said that they had deleted the footage. They denied ever ridiculing her about her beliefs, which they also couldn’t prove. Without the proper evidence for their case, the brothers could only deny what was being revealed in the tribunal.
The court ruled that Karen was to receive £6,145.44 for unfair dismissal and an additional £9,095.84 for charges of religious and sex discrimination. This ruling shows that all people, including Pagans, enjoy the same rights as everybody else.
The owners of the small shop say that the payout will put their business in jeopardy. They are challenging the court’s decision but without any evidence for their case, an overruling on the previous decision is unlikely.
It appears that Pagans across UK do not need to fear expressing their feelings about their religion as the law is firmly behind them and their rights as human beings.
In Pure Spirit
What do you make of the news? A step forward for religious equality or not?