Grainger appealed the decision on the grounds that belief in climate change is "political" and a "lifestyle choice," which should not be compared to religion or philosophy.
This week, the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) rejected Grainger's appeal and found that a belief that carbon emissions must be cut to avoid catastrophic climate change was capable of amounting to a philosophical belief.
In reaching its decision, the EAT held that, unlike the position pertaining to religious beliefs, Mr. Nicholson would probably need to be cross-examined on his belief in order to establish it.
The EAT also enunciated a new five-prong test to determine whether a philosophical belief is worthy of protection:
- The belief must be genuinely held.
- It must be a belief and not an opinion or view based on the present state of
- It must be a belief as to a weighty and substantial aspect of human
- It must attain a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and
- It must be worthy of respect in a democratic society, not incompatible with human dignity and not conflict with the fundamental rights of others.
Humanism was given as an example meeting the criteria, while belief in a political party or the supreme nature of Jedi knights were offered as ones that do not.
Nicholson's solicitor, Shah Qureshi, said: "This case confirms, for the ever increasing number of people who take a philosophical stance on the environment and climate change, and who lead their lives according to those principles, that they are protected from discrimination."
While Camilla Palmer, of Leigh Day & Co, said it opened doors for an even wider category of deeply held beliefs, such as feminism and vegetarianism. "It's a great decision. Why should it only be religions which are protected?"
What is unfair dismissal?
In the UK, dismissal can be unfair for a variety of reasons, i.e.:
- The employer lacks a fair reason for dismissing the
- The employer fails to follow the correct dismissal
- The employer dismisses the employee for an automatically unfair reason
Under the Employment Rights Act, only employees that have a year's continuity of service at the date of dismissal, or who have been dismissed without notice and are within a week of gaining a year's continuity of service, can claim unfair dismissal.
And claimants must comply with strict time limits to claim unfair dismissal - normally, a claim must be brought within three months of the last day of employment.
** Additional information & advice **
You can obtain further information about redundancy, unfair dismissal and religious discrimination on FindLaw. Depending on your situation, however, you may prefer to consult a solicitor who specialises in employment law.