Christian worker fired for refusing to remove cross necklace Awarded over R414 000 in religious discrimination suit

Originally published in Christian Headlines

A Christian factory worker in Scotland has won over $26 000 (R414 000) in a religious discrimination suit after he was fired from his job for refusing to remove his cross necklace.

According to The Telegraph, Jevgenijs Kovalkovs was fired from chicken wholesalers 2 Sisters Food Group Limited in Coupar Angus for refusing to take off a silver necklace, which held a “deep and profound meaning” to him.

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Kovalkovs, a member of the Russian Orthodox Church, was initially hired by his employer in November 2019 and was promoted to quality inspector. The necklace he wore had 30 small links, representing each day that it had been sanctified during his godchild’s baptism ceremony.

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.

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One Comment

  1. As a retired food safety consultant I stand with Ms. McColl’s request that the LINKED chain be removed from this bloke’s neck. How are HE or his WIFE going to feel when they open a packet of chicken pieces only to find silver links in the product? HE will be the FIRST to start shouting and complaining about poor food safety and hygiene! Secondly, this shows perfectly the difference between RELIGION and RELATIONSHIP. IF this bloke knew Who Jesus really was, he would comply with the Food Safety Officers request because, in this single instance, she has authority over him (Romans 1:1-3).