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A British Jewish lawyer who was fired for not working on Passover has won £26,000 ($34,000) in a religious discrimination case.

Lawyer Philip Bialick, who is Orthodox and does not work on Jewish holidays, was fired after he told his employer that he was taking off Passover, as he had prearranged, after being away from work in the weeks before due to illness.

Bialick, 44, joined the law firm as a litigation specialist in January 2020 and booked off for Passover the next month, according to court documents.

After having to self-isolate for COVID until April 8, the law firm expected him to return to work on April 9 – the second day of Passover.

When he told them by email that he had prearranged to have that day off for religious reasons, he was fired the next day, with the message saying his firm was “left with no alternative but to end your employment contract with NNE Law Ltd,” according to the Jewish Chronicle.

Bialick sued his former employer for discrimination during a December 2021 hearing, winning more than $34,000 in compensation.

Bialick explained that his employer had already decided to fire him before sending him the letter, the Daily Mail reported.

“They actually said in the hearing they had already made their decision to sack me which basically lost their case and won it for me,” he said. “They had confirmed to the judge that even before they had sent that letter, they had already decided to get rid of me.”

During the employment tribunal in Manchester, Employment Judge Leach said: “We accept that the dismissal had a devastating impact on him and that he was affected mentally and emotionally.”

He added: “Whilst it was a one-off act, it was a serious one, effectively the most serious sanction an employer could impose on an employee for refusing to attend work on Passover High Holiday.”

The judge noted: “The practice of cancelling holidays booked for that purpose or to face dismissal therefore requires Jewish employees to choose whether to work when they are not permitted to work or be dismissed… That places Jewish employees whose faith requires they do not work on certain days at a particular disadvantage when instructed to cancel annual leave.”