There are certain situations when an employer or private educational institution can insist on employing or educating someone of a particular religion or belief, sharing its ethos.

There may be situations where the nature of a particular job requires a person of a particular belief. In such a case an, employer can choose a person of the relevant belief for that position. This also applies to private educational institutions where belief is an integral part of the education allowing them to choose students belonging to that belief.  

In these exceptional situations, choosing to employ or admit a person of a certain belief to an educational institution will not be considered discriminatory.

Sufficient reasons

To apply this exception, the employer or private educational institution must show that an individual really needs to share the organisation’s ethos or core values to do the job or to receive an education in that particular school. This means that they have to show that the requirement is being applied in order to comply with the doctrines or principles of the religion or belief, or to avoid conflicting with the strongly held beliefs of a significant number of the people who follow that religion or belief. Such conflict needs to be objective. It is not enough to indicate that people working for the company or organisation just don’t like those belonging to other religions or with different beliefs. 

The reasons for choosing a person of particular religion or with different beliefs need to be specific to the position for which they are applying.

example A Catholic church could require a new priest to be a Catholic man who is not married. However, that same reasoning would not justify hiring only males for a cleaner’s position.

Read more about discrimination in employment or education, and discrimination on the basis of religion or beliefs.

Human Rights Guide

A European platform for human rights education