Meaning of philosophical belief

Harron v Dorset Police

The Employment Appeal Tribunal confirmed in this case that a belief that public service is improperly wasteful of money can potentially be protected as a 'philosophical belief' under the Equality Act 2010.

The Claimant worked for Dorset Police. He claimed a detriment arising from his profound 'belief in the proper and efficient use of public money in the public sector' as discrimination on the basis of 'philosophical belief'. The employment tribunal regarded the Claimant's belief as not protected as a 'philosophical belief'.

The EAT noted that 'belief' must relate to matters that are more than merely trivial, but also cautioned against setting the bar too high. The EAT also said that the employment tribunal did not err in finding that a belief that operated merely in the workplace would have too narrow a focus to be qualify for protection. The proper approach is to apply case law and the statutory Code of Practice for the Equality Act to see if a belief qualifies for protection.

In Practice

This case demonstrates that a wide range of 'beliefs' can be capable of being protected under the Equality Act 2010. Employers should always be careful when workers say they are asserting some sort of belief, no matter how strange that belief may seem. If employers find themselves in this position we would always recommend they seek legal advice before doing anything that the employee may consider to be a detriment.

At Frettens, all of our solicitors offer a free initial meeting or chat on the phone to answer your questions. If this article raises issues for you or your business, please call us on 01202 499255 and Kate or Paul will be happy to discuss it with you.