The case of Jennie Cain, the school receptionist who was disciplined for sending a prayer email, will be heard by an employment tribunal starting on 22 March.
Archive: a BBC news report (Feb 09)
The hearing will take place in Taunton, Somerset, and is scheduled to last for five days.
Lawyers representing Jennie Cain have lodged papers claiming that she has suffered religious discrimination, harassment and victimisation.
The claim is brought against the governing body of Landscore Primary School and the school’s head teacher Mr Gary Read. A claim is also brought against Devon County Council for aiding the discrimination.
In January this year Mrs Cain’s daughter, Jasmine, was reprimanded by her class teacher for talking about her Christian faith to another child.
The school has said the five-year-old had frightened another child by talking about hell.
It has since come to light that the conversation between the children was never witnessed by any adult and took place around October time the previous year.
On hearing that her daughter had been reprimanded for expressing her faith, Mrs Cain sent a private email to church friends and family asking them to pray about the incident.
The email was sent from Mrs Cain’s home computer, outside work time, using her personal email account.
But the email ended up in the hands of head teacher Gary Read who launched an investigation against Mrs Cain for professional misconduct.
A panel of school governors decided to discipline Mrs Cain by issuing her a final written warning. This was reduced to a written warning on appeal.
However, the legal papers lodged with the Employment Tribunal claim that the decision to discipline Mrs Cain is part of ongoing hostility to her Christian faith by her employers.
The legal papers also claim that the governors sitting on the appeal panel had wanted to remove the warning from Mrs Cain’s record completely but were blocked from doing so by staff from Devon County Council’s Human Resources Department.
It is further claimed that school’s disciplinary procedure was not properly followed.
Mrs Cain was told to stay away from work for four months. The legal papers claim that, upon her return to work, Mrs Cain has continued to suffer religious discrimination and harassment. She also suffered victimisation on account of her taking legal action.
When Mrs Cain’s case came to light, the Archbishop of York backed her.
Archbishop John Sentamu expressed his support in an article for a national newspaper.
The Archbishop said Mrs Cain’s case and that of Christian nurse Caroline Petrie represent a “seeming intolerance and illiberality about faith in God which is being reflected in the higher echelons of our public services”.
He said: “Asking someone to leave their belief in God at the door of their workplace is akin to asking them to remove their skin colour before coming into the office. Faith in God is not an add-on or optional extra.
“For me, my trust in God is part of my DNA; it is central to who I am and defines my place in the world. It informs my whole life, not just a weekly service on a Sunday.
“It is the failure to grasp this basic understanding of what it is to be a follower of Jesus Christ that lies at the heart of the problem of which these two cases are just symptoms.”
He added: “Those who display intolerance and ignorance, and would relegate the Christian faith to just another disposable lifestyle choice, argue that they operate in pursuit of policies based on the twin aims of ‘diversity and equality’.
“Yet in the minds of those charged with implementing such policies, ‘diversity’ apparently means every colour and creed except Christianity, the nominal religion of the white majority; and ‘equality’ seemingly excludes anyone, black or white, with a Christian belief in God.”