Church says Singapore violated law in job case

Church says Singapore violated law in job case
Pastor Lawrence Khong of Faith Community Baptist Church.

SINGAPORE - A Singaporean Protestant church has accused the government of violating the constitution by ordering it to pay compensation to a former worker sacked for alleged adultery.

The 10,000-strong Faith Community Baptist Church asked the High Court to reverse a government order to compensate the female worker for wrongful dismissal, court documents seen by AFP on Thursday showed.

The worker had lodged a complaint with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) after the church sacked her in September 2012 when it found out she was pregnant with the child of another church employee while she was still married.

The church subsequently complied with a ministry order to pay her Sg$7,657 ($6,126) in August.

The 11-page document filed in court on Wednesday said the decision by the Minister of Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin circumvented the church's "constitutional right to manage its own religious affairs".

The church said the ministry failed to take into account several facts in the case, including the church's values and the inclusion of "sexual misconduct" in the employment contract as one of the grounds for dismissal.

It said the female worker had entered into an "illicit sexual relationship" with a divorced male colleague while she was married, behaviour it labelled as "sinful, inappropriate and unacceptable".

A ministry spokesman said it has to apply employment laws "equally to all, regardless of their religion".

"This was strictly a dispute between an employer and an employee, and MOM treated it as such."

The church has a high profile in Singapore because its senior pastor Lawrence Khong is a vocal opponent of a campaign to repeal an archaic law that makes sex between men a crime.

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