Will Europe’s highest court respect religious freedom in workplace?

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys available for media interviews after hearings at European Court of Human Rights
Friday, August 31, 2012

WHO:  Legal Counsel Paul Coleman and Senior Legal Counsel Roger Kiska
WHAT:  Available for media interviews following oral arguments in Eweida and Chaplin v. United Kingdom and Ladele and McFarlane v. United Kingdom
WHEN:  Tuesday, Sept. 4, immediately after oral arguments at 9 a.m. CEST (3 a.m.EDT)
WHERE:  European Court of Human Rights, Human Rights Building, Strasbourg, France 

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L to R: Gary McFarlane, Andrea Williams (allied attorney and CEO of Christian Legal Centre), Paul Diamond, Shirley Chaplin, and Paul Coleman at Sept. 4 hearing

STRASBOURG, France — Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys Paul Coleman and Roger Kiska will be available for media interviews Tuesday immediately following oral arguments at the European Court of Human Rights in four pivotal cases that involve religious freedom in the workplace.

“Christian employees should not be singled out for discrimination,” said Coleman, who is based in Vienna, Austria, along with Kiska. “No one should have to hide their faith or act contrary to it. This type of intolerance is inconsistent with the values of civilized communities.”

Coleman will be present at the counsel’s table during the hearings in Eweida and Chaplin v. United Kingdom and Ladele and McFarlane v. United Kingdom alongside lead counsel Paul Diamond. Diamond is one of nearly 2,200 allied attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom and will argue before the court in defense of the Christians involved in all four cases, which the court consolidated into two.

Eweida and Chaplin v. United Kingdom involves Christian women told they must either cover up or remove cross necklaces. One of the women, Nadia Eweida, worked at the British Airways check-in counter at Heathrow Airport in London. The other, Shirley Chaplin, worked as a nurse at a government-run hospital. In both cases, accommodation was made for some employees of other faiths, but not for these women.

Ladele and McFarlane v. United Kingdom involves two Christians fired for declining to engage in acts contrary to their faith. Lillian Ladele is a Christian woman who worked as a marriage registrar for Islington Council in London but was disciplined after she asked to be exempt from registering same-sex civil partnerships. Gary McFarlane was a successful counselor for a counseling service that provided services to both opposite-sex and same-sex couples but was fired after he declined to unequivocally commit to provide same-sex couples with psycho-sexual therapy.

The court allowed Alliance Defending Freedom to intervene in defense of the four Christians in the summer of last year. 

  • Pronunciation guide: Eweida (eh-WY’-duh), Ladele (luh-DELL’-ee), McFarlane (mick-FAR’-lin)
Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly Alliance Defense Fund) is an alliance-building legal ministry that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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