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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 April, 2005, 16:18 GMT 17:18 UK
Churchgoer appeals over sacking
Steven Copsey
Steven Copsey is claiming 65,000 damages
The sacking of a devout Christian for refusing to work on Sundays was similar to the actions of the Soviet Russian state, the Court of Appeal has heard.

Stephen Copsey, 33, of King's Lynn, Norfolk, lost his job as a production supervisor at a quarry in 2002.

He failed to convince an employment tribunal that his employers WBB Devon Clays acted unreasonably.

Mr Copsey, who worked for the firm for 14 years, is now claiming 65,000 damages for alleged unfair dismissal.

'Religious freedom'

On Wednesday, Paul Diamond, representing him, told a panel of three judges that Mr Copsey had suffered a "significant injustice".

An employment tribunal earlier ruled that the company had not acted unreasonably.

The decision, backed by an employment appeal tribunal, was that the only reason Mr Copsey was sacked was because he refused to work a seven-day shift pattern, and not because he held particular religious beliefs.

Mr Diamond said both tribunals had failed to take into account Mr Copsey's European Convention rights to religious freedom.

'Contempt' for views

"There are striking similarities between this case and the treatment in Soviet Russia of Jewish refugees and Christians who sustained economic hardship for practising their faith," he added.

Mr Copsey, who describes himself as a devout Christian, has said his religious views were treated with "contempt" by the company and he should have been offered the same rights as Jews, Muslims and Hindus.

Thomas Linden, representing the company, said the employment tribunal had noted that the first occasion Mr Copsey suggested a religious reason was two years after Sunday working had first become an issue.

The company had done "everything it could" to accommodate Mr Copsey's religious views, said Mr Linden.

Judgment was reserved to a later date.

Sunday work appeal dismissed
13 Feb 04 |  Norfolk

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