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Ikea dismisses an employee for quoting the Bible. Discrimination in the well known trading network

Published: 10.07.2019

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The employee of the Ikea network was dismissed because of his reply on the company's internet forum to the employer’s ideological agitation, in which he expressed his opinion inspired by excerpts from the Holy Bible. He was fired although his work had been positively assessed by customers and his supervisors. The decision of the Ikea authorities constitutes a violation of the law and the company's internal standards. The Ordo Iuris institute filed a suit on behalf of the man, in which it applies to the court for considering the dismissal as ineffective, the payment of damages and the transfer of the funds for charitable purposes.

Tomasz K.’s post on the Internet was a comment on the article sent to Ikea employees, promoting the ideology of the LGBT movement. The man expressed his negative opinion on this subject, referring to verses from the Holy Bible. Tomasz K.'s statement resulted in the illegal termination of his employment contract and employees who liked the above mentioned post on the forum were reprimanded.

The decision of the company’s authorities constitutes differentiating employees due to their religion. It also violates the company's regulations prohibiting discrimination on religious grounds. Due to the fact that the post was published on the company’s internal forum, it cannot be identified with opinions of the Ikea authorities.

The employer indicated in the content of the termination that the dismissal resulted from the violation of Ikea internal regulations, “violation of the principles of social interaction” and “loss of trust” in the employee. In the Ordo Iuris employees’ opinion, the reasons for the dismissal indicated by the employer are false. They do not correspond to reality and constitute the Ikea arbitrary and subjective assessment, which concerned only the employee's world view, faith and religion. As it is clear from all the circumstances of the case disclosed, the real reason for the employee’s dismissal was his expression of the opinion referring to Catholic values.

As Ordo Iuris employees indicate, a behaviour compliant or non-compliant with the principles of social interaction is a behaviour compliant or non-compliant with social standards and values accepted or unaccepted by certain society. The expression by the employee of opinions on homosexual practices based on the teaching of the Catholic Church and referring to the religion practised cannot be regarded as non-compliant with the principles of social interaction.

In the opinion of the Ordo Iuris employees, “the loss of trust by the employer” is also a false reason for terminating the employment contract. What is significant, Tomasz K. had the reputation of being a good employee. The man’s work was positively assessed by his supervisors, other employees and the store’s customers, which was reflected in frequent pay rises he received. Therefore, the background of the decision made by the company’s authorities was exclusively ideological. The indicated reason is not based on any objective or rational premises, but results from the employer's arbitrary assessments and subjective prejudices towards the employee’s opinion, in which he referred to Catholic values. It is expressed in referring by the employer to the violation by the claimant of the principles of social interaction and  the employer’s internal acts, from which it results clearly that any discrimination of employees on the basis of their religion or faith is explicitly prohibited and, at the same time, in mentioning the only circumstance leading to the alleged violation of the principles of social interaction and the employer's internal acts, which is the employee’s statement concerning his Catholic faith and beliefs compliant with the teaching of the Catholic church.

The decision made by the Ikea authorities violates a number of provisions of the Polish law, in particular the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland, i.e. Art. 54 concerning the freedom to hold and express opinions and Art. 53 regulating the freedom of conscience and religion. The Ikea actions also violated labour regulations concerning the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of beliefs and religion expressed in Art. 11 and 18 of the Polish Labour Code. In the opinion of the Ordo Iuris employees, Ikea moreover violated Art. 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights, according to which everyone has the right to express their opinion as well as to hold beliefs and express them in an unrestricted way.

In connection with the indication of false reasons for dismissing Tomasz K. by Ikea, the Ordo Iuris employees prepared on his behalf a suit which was filed to the court of competent jurisdiction in Kraków.

“The decision on dismissing Tomasz K. is inconsistent with the Polish law and internal standards of the Ikea network. The expression by the employee of the opinion on the ideology of the LGBT movement and his attachment to Christian values cannot be the reason for drawing any legal consequences against him. We hope that the court will consider the termination of the employment contract as ineffective and award the claimant appropriate damages” – commented Maciej Kryczka, the attorney from the Ordo Iuris Process Intervention Centre.

The name of the claimant was changed for the purposes of the press release.

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