Charles Price
Friday 22nd September 2017
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PUBLISHED ARTICLES

Article 15
Environmental Crusader 'Possibly' Protected Under Employment Equality (Religion and Belief) Regulations 2003


Yesterday I happened to be in the same court room at the EAT when Mr Justice Burton handed down a judgment, which had journos running for the phone.

Mr Nicholson has claimed that his dismissal n the grounds of redundancy was an act of discrimination on grounds of 'philosophical belief'. The belief his barrister argued fell under the definition of Employment Equality (Religion and Belief) Regulations 2003 SI 2003/1660 (as amended by Equality Act 2006 s.77) as "any religious or philosophical belief".

Tim Nicholson, 42, of Oxford, was made redundant in 2008 by Grainger Plc in Didcot, as head of sustainability.
He said his beliefs had contributed to his dismissal and in March a judge at a preliminary hearing ruled that he could use employment equality laws to claim it was unfair. Grainger appealed against this as it believed his views were political.

The BBC reports the facts in its news story including a quote from Grainger:

'Grainger corporate affairs director Dave Butler said:

"This decision merely confirms that views on the importance of environmental protection are capable of amounting to a philosophical belief.
"Grainger absolutely maintains, as it has done from the very outset of these proceedings, that Mr Nicholson's redundancy was driven solely by the operational needs of the company during a period of extraordinary market turbulence, which also required other structural changes to be made within the company.'

John Bowers QC for Grainger argued that Mr Nicholson was describing a scientific view rather than a philosophical belief, which themselves, 'are not capable of scientific proof'.

The EAT (Burton J. sitting alone) has changed but not overruled, the employment judge's decision and has agreed that the case can go to trial on the basis that “the asserted belief held by the Claimant upon which he bases his claim of discrimination is capable of being a belief for the purposes of” the 2003 Regulations.

Emplaw reports: Mr Nicholson will need to provide (i) evidence directed to the genuineness of his belief; (ii) evidence that it is a belief rather than "an opinion or viewpoint based on the present state of information available" and (iii) evidence from which the Tribunal could conclude that his dismissal was on the grounds of that belief.

BBC:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/oxfordshire/8339652.stm

The Regs:

http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2003/20031660.htm


Charles Price is a barrister at no5 Chambers
www.charlesprice.net

 


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