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Green Beliefs? You Are Fired!

GoGreen-main_FullNot anymore. Yesterday, Sir Michael Burton made a ground-breaking ruling in the UK Employment Tribunal that the claimant’s “green beliefs” deserved as much protection in the workplace as that accorded to religious views. 

But when does a belief become ‘a philosophical belief’ of the kind that may give rise to a discrimination claim?

Nick Lakeland was interviewed live recently on Candian Radio(the Dave Rutherford Show) and you can hear the entire interview  here.

Tim Nicholson claimed that he was unfairly made redundant from his position as Head of Sustainability at Grainger (apparently the UK’s largest residential landlord) and that he was discriminated against because of his beliefs about man-made climate change.

There seems little doubt that Mr Nicholson’s views were strong and sincerely held. He had changed his own life-style to fit his “green beliefs” by no longer travelling by air and also by making his home eco-friendly. He had lodged complaints about his employer flying an employee to Ireland and back just to pick up his BlackBerry that he had forgotten on a business trip and claimed that the firm had failed to execute its documented Green policies. On this basis, he alleged that he had been discriminated against unfairly.

Sir Michael Burton ruled that: “If a person can establish he holds a philosophical belief based on science as opposed, for example, religion, then there is no reason to disqualify it from protection.”

He went on to say that, “a belief in man-made climate change, and the alleged resulting moral imperatives, is capable, if genuinely held, of being a philosophical belief for the purpose of the Employment Equality(Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003.

Throughout the case  Grainger maintained its position that Mr Nicholson was fired because of “operation needs during a period of extraordinary market turbulence.”

This ruling is bound to encourage many more discrimination claims by employees who feel that they have been treated unfairly because of their ‘philosophical beliefs’. 

What is next one might ask? Protection for vegetarians, re-cycling fanatics, social networkers, conspiracy theorists, flat-earthers…perhaps even Jedi knights?

There is no financial limit to a compensation claim for discrimination on grounds of philosophical beliefs….Employers be warned!

One Comment

  1. thelegalview says:

    Perhaps employees should consdier whether it’s more appropriate for them to conduct their lifes as they see appropriate but not to mix their personal views with their business lives; next we will have flat earth believers working for travel agents saying they will not book long haul trips for customers in cse they fall off the edge of the world; Michael Burton is a spendid chap but it’s all getting very American in the UK employment field

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