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Churchgoer Loses Job Over Sunday Work

by | Thu, Nov 9 2023

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A major British supermarket chain has been accused of dismissing a churchgoer because she refused to work every Sunday.

Jacqueline Rendell had been a reportedly loyal retail assistant at a Sainsbury’s store in Kent for more than 20 years. She had agreed to work one Sunday a fortnight, but her contract was suddenly changed in 2021.

Kent Online reports that an employment tribunal heard how “Sainsbury’s engaged so-called ‘fire and rehire’ tactics – a practice in which an employer dismisses a worker and offers them a new contract on different, often less-favourable terms.”

The new contract required Ms. Rendell to work every Sunday, making it impossible to attend church services. Kent Online reports the company refused to let her swap shifts with a co-worker.

The retail assistant also tried to explain that the new schedule would also interfere with her commitment to a second job at her husband’s firm and her ability to care for her elderly mother. But the supermarket wouldn’t accommodate her requests.

She then took action legal against Sainsbury’s for unfair dismissal.

After mediation failed, the supermarket’s representatives told the employment tribunal hearing the company had offered Ms. Rendell jobs at other Kent stores, but she had rejected them because they were too far away.

They also told the hearing said the changes to contracts were necessary to meet customer needs as they did not have enough experienced customer service staff working weekends and they did not have the budget to hire more employees.

The judge reserved her decision until next month.