A British employment tribunal has ruled a teaching assistant was not a victim of religious discrimination after her school gave her a hard time when she refused the reading of a Harry Potter book in class.
Sariya Allan, 47, was a teaching assistant at Durand Primary School in Stockwell, England. She gave a seven-year-old student a book to read but the student found it too easy and picked up a Harry Potter book. Allan, who is a devout Pentacostal Christian, refused permission, saying the books were forbidden by the Bible and she didn’t “do witchcraft.” She also said the author of the books, JK Rowling, was a witch and if the student read from the book she would be cursed.
The student’s mother complained to the school and Allan was called into a meeting with the assistant headmaster. She told him she had a problem with the Potter books and reiterated the author was a witch. Allan claimed the assistant headmaster then told her the Bible was “rubbish” and subsequently banned her daily breaktime prayer meetings for staff and suspended her for “unspecified sick leave.”
Allan also claimed the headmasters tried to get her to admit she didn’t like it at the school and should resign and sided against her in a pay dispute and over wearing gloves to give first aid to students.
“The continual meetings, running down of my belief in Christianity and nudges for me to resign made me feel unwanted,” Allan told the tribunal. She finally resigned at the end of the school year and filed a complaint saying she had been subjected to religious discrimination.
The tribunal found the school did not discriminate against Allan and the headmasters had legitimate concerns at the comments she made to the student and the manner in which she said them. It ruled Allan didn’t sufficiently prove any discrimination against her and she resigned of her own accord.