10/04/11 - Will political discrimination be outlawed?

The news that a second case has confirmed that it is illegal to discriminate e.g. dismiss an employee on the grounds of (philosophical) belief was welcomed by the Solidarity Trade Union.
At a case in Dorset an ex-hunt saboteur, who was sacked by his employers, was found by a judge to hold a ''philosophical belief" i.e. a belief in animal rights and therefore protected by law.
His solicitor was quoted as saying that "The judgement is based on fact and a clear interpretation of the law rather than negative stereotype. It sends a clear signal that employers cannot discriminated against people merely because they disagree with their deeply held beliefs."
Since there was no question that he was dismissed due to those beliefs he is now free to pursue his ex-employers for 'unfair dismissal' in an Employment Tribunal.
Interestingly the claimant, Joe Hashman, says that this was the third time he had been sacked for his beliefs which suggests 'political' discrimination at work has been significant and going on for a long time.
General Secretary of Solidarity, Patrick Harrington, said "As a libertarian Union we believe worker's political beliefs and views are no concern of bosses. This is another precedent that is building the case that says it is always wrong and illegal to discriminate on political grounds. Expect to see more and more cases until bosses get the message!". 
The Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003 first introduced protection for beliefs. As with much legislation it requires Court cases to test provenance and establish precedence. The first case in November 2009 held that a climate change campaigner's beliefs were so deeply held they were entitled to the same protection as religious beliefs under employment law.
Clearly political ideologies will come under scrutiny and we fully expect to see members of political parties who may be discriminated against to bring cases against their employers. Whilst there is some established cases protecting political activists in Europe, Britain has lagged behind. Solidarity predicts this state of affairs will not last too long.
Contact: Solidarity General Secretary, Patrick Harrington on 07794 486858 or [email protected] &
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