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23 June 2016 0 Comments
Posted in Employment, Opinion

The extension of the meaning of “philosophical belief”

Author headshot image Posted by , Partner

In Harron v Dorset Police, the EAT has potentially extended still further the meaning of “philosophical belief” under the Equality Act.  It is possible that a belief that a public service is improperly wasteful of money may be protected under the meaning of philosophical belief.

The claimant, who worked for the Dorset Police, claimed that he had been treated detrimentally as a result of his belief in the “proper and efficient use of public money in the public sector” and had thus been discriminated against. The Tribunal dismissed his claim, stating that the belief cited did not accord with the five criteria set out in the case of Grainger Plc v Nicholson, the case regarding belief in climate change being a philosophical belief.

The EAT did not agree that the Tribunal had taken a correct approach and sent the case back for reconsideration, noting that “belief” must relate to matters that are more than merely trivial but also cautioned against setting the bar too high.  It emphasised that the correct approach is to apply the Grainger principles and the statutory code of practice for the Equality Act to identify whether or not the belief qualifies for protection.

If it does, it seems the boundaries are getting ever wider for what constitutes a philosophical belief.

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