UK Christian woman in trouble for reaching out to Muslim colleague

From MailOnline

A Christian NHS worker suspended for giving a religious book to a Muslim colleague has lost her appeal against the ruling - with a judge concluding that the decision to discipline her was lawful.

Victoria Wasteney, 39, was found guilty by her NHS employer in 2014 of 'harassing and bullying' a work friend for giving her a book about a Muslim woman's encounter with Christianity, praying with her and asking her to church.

She was suspended for nine months and given a written warning - even though the woman had been happy to discuss faith with her and never gave evidence about her allegations to the NHS.

Victoria Wasteney

Victoria Wasteney

Ms Wasteney, a senior occupational therapist, challenged the decision by East London NHS Foundation Trust at an employment tribunal last year, but it ruled that her employer had not discriminated against her.

A judge gave her the chance to appeal against that decision, saying it should consider whether the original ruling had correctly applied the European Convention on Human Rights' strong protection of freedom of religion and expression.

But at a hearing in central London today, Her Honour Judge Eady QC dismissed the appeal.

Following the decision, Miss Wasteney, from Epping, Essex, said: 'What the court clearly failed to do was to say how, in today's politically correct world, any Christian can even enter into a conversation with a fellow employee on the subject of religion and not, potentially, later end up in an employment tribunal.

'If someone sends you friendly text messages, how is one to know that they are offended? I had no idea that I was upsetting her.'

Miss Wasteney, a born-again Christian, was working at the St John Howard Centre in Homerton, east London, when she became friendly with a junior colleague Enya Nawaz.

The two women had discussed Islam and Christianity, as well as the work done by her church at the Christian Revival Church in the O2 Arena in Greenwich against human trafficking.

When Miss Nawaz was upset about health problems, Miss Wasteney said she offered to pray for her – putting her hand on her knee and asking God for ‘peace and healing’.

NHS worker Victoria Wasteney: 'I was engaging in normal behaviour'

She also invited her to church events and gave her colleague a book, I Dared To Call Him Father, about a Muslim woman who converts to Christianity, but denied she was trying to make Miss Nawaz convert.

Miss Nawaz went onto make a formal complaint, and the East London NHS Foundation Trust suspended Ms Wasteney on full pay from her £50,000-a-year job for nine months while they investigated in June 2013.

A disciplinary hearing upheld three complaints about the book, the invitation to attend church and Miss Wasteney’s offer to pray for Miss Nawaz, and gave her a written warning for misconduct.

She continues to work for the Trust, but not in her specialist field. 

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