Our next case is about religion/belief discrimination and asks:
Can a belief that public money is being wasted be discriminated against?
Mr Harron, the Claimant, worked for Dorset Police, the Respondent. The Claimant believed that public service was improperly wasteful of money which he felt resulted in him being discriminated against.
At a preliminary hearing the ET ruled that the belief failed to meet three of the five criteria required to be protected, which were:
1. The belief must be genuinely held.
2. It must be a belief and not an opinion or viewpoint based on the present state of information available.
3. It must be a belief as to a weighty and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour.
4. It must attain a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance.
5. It must be worthy of respect in a democratic society, be not incompatible with human dignity and not conflict with the fundamental rights of others
The ET did not doubt that the belief met points 1 or 5 but felt it did not meet one of the other three. This resulted in the claim being dismissed. The Claimant appealed, alleging the threshold for protection was too high and citing Article 9 of European Convention for Human Rights, the freedom of thought, conscience and religion, which states:
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief
2. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society.
The EAT allowed the appeal, it held that a better threshold would be to that the belief must:
1. Be consistent with basic standards of human dignity or integrity
2. Relate to matters that are more than merely trivial
3. Possess an adequate degree of seriousness and importance.
4. Be a belief on a fundamental problem.
Yes, a belief that public money is being mismanaged can be a protected belief if it meets the necessary criteria. This case was remitted back to ET to be re-decided on the above criteria. The correct approach for employers to take would be that any belief can be discriminated against if it meets the necessary requirements, including far left socialist beliefs.
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