A Christian social worker who once won a “landmark” freedom of speech case is at the centre of an employment tribunal after having a job offer withdrawn over his traditional Christian views.
Mr Felix Ngole had been offered a job by Touchstone Support, a mental health organisation based in Leeds.
However, according to his legal team, after his prospective employers were made aware of Mr Ngole’s prominent legal win in 2019, they delivered an ultimatum – to show a commitment to “embrace and promote LGBT+ rights” or not work for the company.
They say Ngole was told his beliefs did not “align” with the values of the organisation.
The matter has been taken to an employment tribunal, which began in Leeds on Monday, 10th July.
In 2015, Mr Ngole was removed from his social work degree at the University of Sheffield after saying that marriage was between a man and a woman, and that same-sex marriage was sinful, via a Facebook post.
A four-year legal battle ensued, before the matter was elevated to the Court of Appeals, which ruled in Mr Ngole’s favour.
The judge said the university had “confused” religious views with discrimination, and that there was no real evidence Mr Ngole would discriminate against someone on the basis of their sexuality.
He was allowed to return to his studies following the verdict, and went on to qualify as a professional social worker.
He described the position with Touchstone Support as his “dream job”.
Mr Ngole will make claims under the Equality Act for direct discrimination, harassment, indirect discrimination, and compensation for injury to feelings.
Speaking ahead of the hearing, he said: “No one has ever told me that I have not treated them well in my professional experience. I have never been accused of forcing my beliefs on anyone. I have supported vulnerable individuals from all backgrounds, including LGBT.
“I was delighted to be invited to the interview so that I could showcase my skills. I saw it as a step closer to my dream job. It was a brilliant interview; I was greeted warmly, and they were really kind to me.
“I was offered the job and they were already talking to me about my first day and who my line manager would be. When I received the email telling me that the job had been withdrawn it was a shock. I was very confused and distraught, and I wanted to know why.
“The reasons they gave for withdrawing the job offer were an attack on me and my faith.
“They made it seem that 100% of the people I would be helping would be LGBT, and that I had to pledge allegiance to the LGBT flag and forget about my Christian beliefs.”