Grainger plc v Nicholson

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Grainger plc v Nicholson
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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 worthy of respect in a democratic society as well as being not incompatible with human dignity or conflict with others’ rights.[2]

As for limits, the democratic society and dignity elements gave such indication, so racist or homophobic political philosophies would not meet the requirements. Darwinism would be included, even though it was entirely based on scientific conclusions. So if a belief was founded on science, not religion it would be protected. The existence of a positive philosophical belief does not depend on a negative philosophical belief to the contrary.

However, because the Tribunal had not had the benefit of cross examination, Mr Nicholson would still need to be questioned on the genuineness of that belief. Still, the Tribunal’s decision was upheld to the extent that he had asserted a protected ground.

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