HR | Employment Law | Health & Safety

01244 893776

Kuteh v Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust

Dismissal For Proselytising Religious Views Was Fair

» Share This Post

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on email

Kuteh V Dartford And Gravesham NHS Trust

The case of Kuteh v Dartford And Gravesham NHS Trust relates to an incident of an employee being dismissed for proselytism (the attempt of any religion or religious individuals to convert people to their beliefs).


Mrs Kuteh worked in the Intensive Therapy Unit since 2007, as a band 5 Junior Sister.

She was, therefore, involved in conducting patient assessments before they went in for operations. 

To conduct these assessments, she used a pro-forma document, which meant she had to make a simple enquiry regarding the religion the patient followed and note down their response. 

In spring of 2016, patients had complained that Mrs Kuteh had started unwanted religious conversations with them. 

After a conversation with the Matron whereby these concerns were voiced, Mrs Kuteh assured the Matron religion would not be a topic she would discuss with patients again.

However, in May, two further matters of concern were brought up. This led to Mrs Kuteh being suspended in 2016.

Three allegations were being made against her during this time. This included the following:

  • Breach of para 20.7 of the Nursing and Midwifery Council Code, which states personal beliefs cannot be expressed in a manner deemed inappropriate.
  • Inappropriate conduct or behaviour that involved unwanted discussions about religion, causing verbal patient complaints.
  • Repeated misconducted, meaning management instruction was not followed. 

Employment Tribunal & EAT

Mrs Kuteh took Dartford And Gravesham NHS Trust to an Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal.

She was hoping to rely on the protections under article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights (right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion). 

The Employment Tribunal found that her dismissal was fair.

Then the Employment Appeals Tribunal refused permission for Mrs Kuteh to appeal.

Court Of Appeal

Mrs Kuteh then appealed the EAT refusal and went to the Court of Appeal, which dismissed her appeal on the grounds that the article 9 protections didn’t extend to improper proselytism.

The court emphasised that it was a claim for unfair dismissal, and that ‘important cases such as this should not become over-elaborate or excessively complicated’.

The justification was:

  • Ms Kuteh accepted that on at least some occasions, she initiated conversations with patients about religion;
  • She had assured her employer that she would stop doing so;
  • Despite that assurance, given in response to a lawful management instruction, she continued to do so;
  • Her employer conducted a fair procedure, by way of investigation, at the disciplinary hearing and at the subsequent appeal;
  • The decision to dismiss Ms Kuteh for misconduct was one which the tribunal concluded fell within the band of reasonable responses open to the employer.

About The Author.

James Rowland

James Rowland

James is the Commercial Director at Neathouse Partners. He is responsible for all Account Management, Sales & Marketing within the company. Having gained a BSc in Psychology and further study for his post-grad Law degree, James embarked on his legal career in 2014. Since then, he has become an Associate Director at a national Employment Law boutique, studied for a Masters in Marketing, and as of 2018, been a Director at Neathouse Partners. Outside of the office, James is a keen cricketer, playing very badly (he calls himself a Batsman but averages single figures) in the Cheshire League for Nantwich CC. He also loves watching his childhood football team, Crewe Alexandra, and is an avid lover of cinema (his favourite film being Pulp Fiction). Feel free to connect with James on LinkedIn.


More Posts

Unfair dismissal

Unfair dismissal

Employees can bring unfair dismissal claims against employers if they believe their contract has been terminated without fair reason or when their employer does not

Free resources

Employment Law & HR Manual For Business Owners & HR Managers