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Discrimination on grounds of Political Opinion

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[Thanks to Sarah Russell, solicitor at Russell, Jones and Walker, part of Slater & Gordon Lawyers, for preparing this case summary]

Does the UK provide adequate protection from dismissal on the grounds of political party membership?

No, said the European Court of Human Rights in Redfearn v UK.

The Claimant was employed by Serco providing transport services for children and adults in Bradford.  He was elected as a Councillor for the BNP.  Serco summarily dismissed him, citing safety concerns about his risk of attracting attack.  The Claimant had insufficient service to bring an unfair dismissal claim.  His race discrimination claim failed.

The ECtHR held that the lack of unfair dismissal protection interfered with his right to freedom of assembly under Article 11 of the ECHR.  There is an obligation to provide protection against dismissal motivated by an employee's membership of a political party, or at least to provide the means for an independent evaluation of the proportionality of such a dismissal.  This applied notwithstanding that the views of that party might be offensive, because of the importance of democracy.

It may now be arguable that political views should be treated as incorporated into the definition of philosophical beliefs for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010.