Demoted Christian wins legal fight

Braintree and Witham Times: A Christian man has won a case against being demoted at work over comments made on Facebook about gay marriage A Christian man has won a case against being demoted at work over comments made on Facebook about gay marriage

A Christian who was demoted for posting his opposition to gay marriage on Facebook has won his breach of contract action.

Adrian Smith lost his managerial position, had his salary cut by 40%, and was given a final written warning by Trafford Housing Trust (THT) after posting that gay weddings in churches were "an equality too far".

The comments were not visible to the general public, and were posted outside work time, but the trust said he broke its code of conduct by expressing religious or political views which might upset co-workers.

Mr Smith brought breach of contract proceedings, saying the trust acted unlawfully in demoting him and Mr Justice Briggs ruled in his favour at London's High Court.

The judge said that the trust did not have a right to demote Mr Smith as his Facebook postings did not amount to misconduct, and the demotion imposed by way of purported disciplinary sanction constituted a breach of contract.

He said that the "very modest" damages due to Mr Smith was the very small difference between his contractual salary and the amount actually paid to him during the 12 weeks following his assumption of his new, but reduced, role.

He added: "I must admit to real disquiet about the financial outcome of this case... The breach of contract which the trust thereby committed was serious and repudiatory. A conclusion that his damages are limited to less than £100 leaves the uncomfortable feeling that justice has not been done to him in the circumstances."

Mr Smith said in a statement: "I didn't do this for the money - I did this because there is an important principle at stake... I have won today. But what will tomorrow bring? I am fearful that, if marriage is redefined, there will be more cases like mine - and if the law of marriage changes people like me may not win in court.

"Does the Prime Minister want to create a society where people like me, people who believe in traditional marriage, are treated as outcasts? That may not be his intention, but, as my treatment shows, that's what will happen. The Prime Minister should think very carefully about the impact of redefining marriage on ordinary people."

Matthew Gardiner, chief executive at Trafford Housing Trust said: "We fully accept the court's decision and I have made a full and sincere apology to Adrian. At the time we believed we were taking the appropriate action following discussions with our employment solicitors and taking into account his previous disciplinary record."

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