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MA, PhD, SFHEA
School of Law
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
+44 (0)1865 484941
Headington Hill Hall, H1.18
Professor Lucy Vickers studied law at Queens' College, Cambridge, and qualified as a solicitor before joining the Law Department at Oxford Brookes University. Her main research area is the protection of human rights within the workplace. In particular she focuses on religious discrimination at work and age equality. In addition she works on freedom of speech at work, including protection for whistleblowing, and the right to freedom of speech under the European Convention on Human Rights.
I welcome applications for doctoral supervision in the area of Equality Law, particularly relating to religion and age equality.
The book considers the extent to which religious interests are protected in the workplace, with particular reference to the protection against religious discrimination provided by the Employment Equality (Religion and Belief) Regulations 2003. It establishes a principled basis for determining the proper scope of religious freedom at work, and considers the interaction of freedom of religion with the right not to be discriminated against on grounds of religion. Discrimination on grounds of religion and belief within the workplace raises many complex and contested issues, not least because of the multi-faceted nature of religious discrimination. Discrimination can occur where secular employers refuse to employ or accommodate religious employees, as well as where religious groups refuse to employ those of a different religion, or those of the same religion whose interpretation or practice of the faith differs. Adding to the complexity is the fact that freedom of religion is protected as a fundamental human right which may be enjoyed by both religious individuals and religious groups. Although it is not an absolute right, its importance to individuals means that religious freedom may warrant a degree of protection in the work context. The book begins with a study of the basis for protecting religious freedom and considers the extent to which that right should be exercised in specialised context of the workplace. It takes a comparative approach, considering the position in other common law jurisdictions, and within the European Union. It locates the debate surrounding these issues within a philosophical and theoretical framework in which the importance of freedom of religion, and its role within the workplace is fully debated.
This paper will consider the legal provisions governing the protection of religion and belief at work. It makes specific reference to the concerns of health professionals, and in particular the issue of conscientious objection. It starts with an outline of the legal provisions governing conscientious objection under the Abortion Act 1967 and Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. It then looks at the generally applicable laws relating to religious belief and employment and examines their application to conscientious objection. It assesses the recent case from the European Court of Human Rights, Eweida and others v UK , and the implications of this case for staff who have conscientious objections to aspects of their work. It suggests that recent developments in the case law create an obligation on employers to consider accommodating such objections unless there are good reasons not to. The paper then moves on to consider other common requests for accommodation of religion at work, particularly the law relating to dress codes and time off for religious observance. Finally, it turns to consider the rights of non-religious staff who are employed within religious medical foundations.
This article considers how policy makers across Europe can meet the challenges of extending working lives, is a key element of the ‘Active Ageing’ agenda, whilst at the same time striking a balance between the interests of older workers, those of younger generations to access jobs and career opportunities, and the interests of employers in workforce planning. It examines the experience of the UK which removed mandatory retirement in October 2011 and argues that, viewed from a Marxist perspective, the developments in the UK have failed to strike the correct balance between the different interests at stake, and has instead taken a neo-liberal approach to the regulation of retirement. It then moves to consider retirement from an equalities perspective and suggests that retaining some form of regulation of the end of working lives can still meet the demands of equality. The final section discusses some proposals for reform.
This article discusses aspects of the role of religion in law and society as discussed in Julian Rivers" book, The Law of Organized Religions: Between Establishment and Secularism. Rivers provides a detailed and systematic account of the English law relating to organized religion. He argues that the role of freedom of religion as a collective right is in danger of being overshadowed by a newer more individualized understanding of the right, which then leads to inferior protection for religious rights in contemporary society. This article considers his arguments, and suggests that an understanding of the parallel interests of equality need further recognition if we are to achieve an optimal understanding of the role of organized religion in society.
The chapter considers two elements of non-discrimination protection on grounds of religion in employment, together with the related CJEU case law: the protection available to individual workers and the position of staff and employers in workplaces with an ethos based on religion or belief. The protection against discrimination on grounds of religion and belief raises a number of fundamental and distinctive questions, many of which are peculiar to the context of religion and belief and which do not have direct analogies with the protection of other characteristics. The chapter discusses the challenges facing the CJEU in determining the proper scope of EU non-discrimination law in respect of religion and belief, given complicating factors, such as the parallel human rights protection for freedom of religion. It suggests that the Court’s decisions involve a compromise which reflects the varied historical, political and constitutional role of religion among member states of the EU.
This chapter focuses on those provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) most clearly relevant to freedom of religion: Article 9, and Article 2 of the First Protocol. These provisions are placed in context, both in terms of the development of freedom of religion at the international level, and in terms of the history of the drafting of the provisions. The exposition function was particularly important in a text on freedom of religion or belief. It was the first full-length text providing a sustained consideration of freedom of religion under the ECHR, as opposed to in international law more generally. A lack of sympathy, or perhaps better put, a failure of judicial imagination when considering the position of atheists within a religious rights regime, materialised in Lautsi v Italy. Eweida removed the initial hurdle in making a religion or belief claim, a second hurdle is immediately encountered: the margin of appreciation.
This study reviews the interpretation and effectiveness of the current domestic legislative framework in relation to religion or belief under equality and human rights law. The review is based upon a detailed analysis of primary and secondary sources of British and European law, recent research carried out by the EHRC, the extensive body of academic literature in the field, and the insights of a diverse group of academics, legal practitioners, representatives of religion or belief organisations and representatives of other advisory and equality bodies. The report explores the legal definitions of religion and of belief and the relationship between them; the legal protection for religion or belief at European level and its application in Great Britain; the balancing of rights and the exceptions to equality law duties on the basis of religion or belief; the idea of a duty of reasonable accommodation; and the public sector equality duty. This report takes forward the EHRC's religion or belief strategy, Shared understandings. This committed the Commission to an extensive work programme including an assessment of the effectiveness of the existing legislative framework.
Conscientious Objections in Employment – Is Reasonable Accommodation the Answer?’ At Exempting Conscientious Beliefs in the UK conference at Cambridge University, June 13 2017
Responding to Religious Diversity: Religious Freedom or Religious Equality’ At Berkeley Comparative Equality and Anti-Discrimination Law Study Group Annual Conference 2017, Trinity College Dublin, 16th June 2017
‘Freedom of Religion or Belief and Employment Law’ at "The European Court of Human Rights and the Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion: The 25-Year Legacy of Kokkinakis,” May 27-28, 2017 at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary.
Respondent on ‘Reasonable Accommodation and the workplace’ at Religious Pluralism and Secularism in Europe, Max Planck Institute Luxembourg 16th January 2015.