I am glad that Adrian Smith has won his case against his employer, Trafford Housing Trust. These links give the story:
- Christian wins case against employers over gay marriage comments (The Guardian)
- Social media, employment, religious views and freedom of speech (Law & Religion UK, a specialist blog.) This link makes that point that although Mr Smith’s Facebook page did identify him as an employee of the Trafford Housing Trust, no reasonable observer would suppose that Mr Smith’s opinions represented the Trust’s opinions.
Adrian Smith lost his managerial position, had his salary cut by 40%, and was given a final written warning by Trafford Housing Trust (THT) after posting in February last year that gay weddings in churches were “an equality too far”.
The comments were not visible to the general public, and were posted outside work time, but the trust said he broke its code of conduct by expressing religious or political views which might upset co-workers.
Given that “might upset co-workers” could apply to just about any conceivable opinion, and that his actual words were almost comically mild, I am not surprised that there was a widespread sense that Trafford Housing Trust could not be allowed to set a precedent. In the end the judge went so far as to regret in public that for technical legal reasons he could not award Mr Smith any more than a token sum on top of his old job back.
All in all this was one instance where a probing attack by the Creatures from the Dungeon Dimensions was overconfident and was repulsed. I think it likely that the same will prove true of the UKIP fostering case mentioned in Johnathan’s post from Sunday.
Nonetheless, I feel obliged to note that in a free society employers would have the right to make their offer of a job conditional upon an employee shutting up utterly about his personal opinions, or vowing slavish adherence to the opinions of his employers however stupid, or wearing a pink carnation up his nose, or being black, homosexual, Muslim, Nazi or all of the above. Not that I would believe such demands would be at all common. Most people, naturally, would elect to work for a less controlling employer – and in a free society we would not be in the position that so many jobs were in the gift of the government or its proxies. The Trafford Housing Trust is one of these deniable chimeras that have spawned under every rock lately; half “charity”, half government.