Philsophical belief protected by Equality Act

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PHILOSOPHICAL belief is one of the protected characteristics in terms of the Equality Act. Concern has been expressed previously that this might afford protection to members of extreme political organisations, such as the BNP.

The courts have, however, made it clear that the philosophical belief must not be incompatible with human dignity and not conflict with the fundamental rights of others. As such it is very unlikely that a member of the BNP could successfully argue that they had been unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of their beliefs.

Employees whose beliefs aren’t protected as philosophical beliefs do though still enjoy the right not to be unfairly dismissed provided that they have the necessary qualifying service. An employer who dismisses an employee in such circumstances would have to establish that the dismissal was for a fair reason, which they could potentially do by linking the belief to an inability or direct conflict with the employee performing the particular job.