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Protection for philosophical beliefs

BY John Wilson
Employment Law & HR
BG Purple

The protection against HR on the ground of religion or belief covers not only religious beliefs, but also other philosophical beliefs provided that these are genuinely held, weighty and substantial, serious and worthy of respect.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, courts and tribunals are having to wrestle with a variety of claims brought by Claimants who hold a variety of passionate beliefs of varying degrees of acceptability.

In two recent cases, employment tribunals have had to consider firstly whether or not an employee’s fervent opposition to fox-hunting and animal rights is a philosophical belief; and secondly whether a former BBC employee’s belief in the “higher purpose” of public service broadcasting could amount to a similar protected belief.

In both cases, the tribunal has found in favour of the employee at a preliminary hearing.  This of course does not mean that either Claimant will necessarily win their case on its merits, and each will have to prove HR.  It does however leave an increasingly wide definition of protected beliefs for employers to concern themselves about.

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