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Discrimination against BNP Members

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The EAT has handed down a decision holding that BNP activists are entitled to rely on the race discrimination legislation.

Mr Redfearn was a postal delivery driver for the West Yorkshire Transport Service. He was found to have been a "perfectly satisfactory employee". However he was dismissed following union representations when the union and his employer discovered that he stood for, and was elected as, a local authority councillor representing the BNP.

The employment tribunal found he had not been dismissed "on racial grounds", because the reason for dismissal was a fear of violence in the workforce flowing from his political beliefs, and therefore that his claim for direct discrimination under the Race Relations Act 1976 failed.

The EAT (Burton P. presiding) quashed that decision. Relying on the well-established Showboat Entertainment Centre v Owens line of authorities, it held that the phrase 'on racial grounds' must be interpreted widely. It included a dismissal where the decision to dismiss was significantly influenced by questions of race - whether it be the complainant's or somebody else's - and noted that the employer's motive, no matter how benign, was not a defence to the employer.

This decision is undoubtedly correct - the EAT was bound by long-standing authority to rule as it did. However, much with as upper qualifying age unfair dismissal cases allowed age discrimination in through the back door of sex discrimination, this decision allowed discrimination on grounds of political belief in through the back door of race discrimination.

Redfearn v Serco Ltd t/a West Yorkshire Transport Service

[Thanks to John Bowers QC of Littleton Chambers, who represented Serco, for telling me this decision was due]