Grainger plc v Nicholson

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Grainger plc v Nicholson
CourtEmployment Appeal Tribunal
Citation(s)[2010] IRLR 4 (EAT)
Case opinions
Burton J
Keywords
Climate change, belief

Grainger plc v Nicholson [2010] IRLR 4 (EAT) is a UK employment discrimination law case, concerning the protection of religion or belief. Regarding the question of an employee's conviction about climate change, it examines the scope of the legislation's protection.

Facts[edit]

Mr Nicholson was made redundant from Grainger plc, the UKs largest listed specialist landlord. Mr Nicholson said he was selected for redundancy first because he believed in climate change. He argued, as a preliminary matter, this was a philosophical belief within the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003 r 2(1)(b) and that should be construed in accordance with ECHR art 9 and Protocol 1, art 2. He said it affected where he lived and how he travelled. Among other things, Grainger plc argued that if it was a philosophical belief then absence of the belief would be protected too.

Judgment[edit]

Burton J held that a conviction that climate change exists is a protected "belief". As Eweida v British Airways plc[1] showed, it was a duty to draw on ECHR jurisprudence. The belief must be genuinely held, must be a belief and not an opinion based on present available information and a weighty or substantial aspect of human life and behaviour, have a level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance, and must be worthy of respect in a democratic society as well as being not incompatible with human dignity or conflict with others’ rights.[2] The final requirements — democratic respectability and compatibility with human dignity — exclude those beliefs that reject social pluralism or that indignify other people. In this regard, Burton distinguished the beliefs of Darwinism and creationism, and the belief that either of those beliefs should be promoted exclusively of the other.

The lower Tribunal had taken Nicholson's word that he believed as he alleged, and indicated that it would not allow an evidentiary inquiry on that matter. Although Burton upheld the Tribunal's preliminary decision as to applicable law, he directed it to permit such an inquiry before concluding that Nicholson held (or did not hold) a protected philosophical belief.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ [2009] EWCA Civ 1025; [2009] IRLR 78 (EAT)
  2. ^ Campbell v United Kingdom (1982) 4 EHRR 293 (7511/76) and R (Williamson) v Secretary of State for Education and Employment [2005] UKHL 15