A Christian NHS employee who was suspended after praying for a Muslim colleague has been granted permission to appeal against the decision of the tribunal which ruled against her. The judge acknowledged the importance of the case and said her “human right” to freedom of expression and religion may have been breached.
Victoria Wasteney, 38, worked as a senior NHS occupational therapist at the East London NHS Foundation Trust for over eight years. However, in February 2014 an internal disciplinary panel found her guilty of three charges of misconduct.
She was accused of “harassing and bullying” by her colleague, the three charges relating to her praying for the Muslim, inviting her to church, and giving her a book about a Muslim woman’s encounter with Christianity.
Wasteney later accused the NUS of anti-Christian bias: “The NHS is increasingly dominated by a suffocating liberal agenda that chooses to bend over backwards to accommodate certain beliefs but punishes the Christian,” she told The Daily Mail.
However, Judge Eady QC has now recognized the significance of Victoria Wasteney’s case in raising points of legal interest and public importance.
Yesterday the judge questioned whether the original ruling had properly applied the European Convention on Human Rights’ protection of freedom of religion and expression. An appeal hearing is now expected next year.
Wasteney commented: “I conducted all my conversations with my colleague in a sensitive and appropriate way. I knew she was from a different faith background and I was respectful of that. I didn’t force my beliefs on anyone at any point. Surely there should be room for mutual conversations about faith, where appropriate, in the workplace?”
“A complaint was made against me by someone who left the job the following month and who did not attend the NHS trust’s disciplinary hearing or the Employment Tribunal. Evidence from text messages shows that we had a friendly relationship. I believe that the complaint has been handled in the way that it has because I am a Christian.”
“I am relieved and pleased that the Employment Appeal Tribunal will now consider my case.”
“There is already an unnatural caginess around faith and belief which is an obstruction to building meaningful relationships in the workplace and this case challenges that.”