After being sacked from his job for refusing to remove his cross necklace, a Christian manufacturing worker in Scotland won nearly $26,000 in a religious discrimination action. According to The Telegraph, Jevgenijs Kovalkovs was sacked from 2 Sisters Food Group Limited in Coupar Angus for refusing to remove a silver necklace with a “deep and profound importance” to him.

Kovalkovs, a member of the Russian Orthodox Church, was hired in November 2019 and later elevated to quality inspector. He wore a necklace with 30 little links, one for each day that it had been sanctified during his godchild’s baptism ritual.

According to company policy, employees are forbidden from wearing jewelry “in the production areas on-site” unless it’s a single plain band ring. The policy also made an exception for religious jewelry once it underwent a risk assessment.

Kovalkovs’ line manager, however, told the Christian worker to remove the necklace despite not conducting the risk assessment. The line manager, who was named in the tribunal judgment as just Ms. McColl, did not do the assessment because she thought that matter had already been dealt with.

As reported by The Christian Post, Kovalkovs ultimately refused to take off the necklace despite initially removing it at McColl’s request. He also issued a complaint about being bullied in the workplace and met with another manager in January 2020, where he wore the necklace.

McColl reportedly felt “embarrassed” that the issue was raised to her boss but eventually completed the risk assessment. Nevertheless, the line manager continued to tell Kovalkovs to take off the necklace because the links could be entangled or trapped.

Kovalkovs, however, refused and was sent to HR, where he was informed that he was terminated for not complying with the company’s instructions.

 

A panel noted that Kovalkovs dismissal was based “entirely” on the fact he did not declare the necklace during the induction course when he first joined the company.

In a ruling by Employment Judge Louise Cowen, it was evident that it concluded that Kovalkovs “had lost a job as a result of the discrimination towards him.”

“His religion and the wearing of his necklace were of deep and profound meaning to him,” she added.