Climate Change ‘Philosophical Belief’ Case Settled


Under the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003, employees are afforded protection from discrimination by reason of ‘any religion, religious or philosophical belief’. Whether or not a particular belief is covered will be decided on the facts of the individual case.
In Nicholson v Grainger plc, Tim Nicholson, who was made redundant from his job as head of sustainability for Grainger plc, the UK’s biggest residential landlord, brought a claim of unfair dismissal against his ex-employer. His contention was that he had been discriminated against because he was selected for redundancy as a result of his views on the dangers of climate change and these amounted to a philosophical belief for the purposes of the Regulations. Grainger plc argued that his views were a scientific opinion rather than a philosophical belief and that he had in any case been made redundant because of the operational needs of the company.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal held that an individual’s beliefs about climate change were capable of being a belief within the meaning of the Regulations and laid down the criteria for use when determining whether or not a particular belief is protected.
In order to succeed in his claim, Mr Grainger would need to persuade the Employment Tribunal of the genuineness of his belief and demonstrate that it met the other stated criteria. He would also have to show that he was made redundant on account of his belief.
However, it has now been reported that an out-of-court settlement has been agreed between the two parties.
Employers should take note that it appears that discrimination on the basis of a person’s philosophical belief may be capable of being fairly widely interpreted.

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