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Employment Law

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26 MAY 2015

GMB v Henderson UKEAT/0073/14; (2015) EMPLR 030

GMB v Henderson UKEAT/0073/14; (2015) EMPLR 030
13 March 2015

Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT)

Simler J DBE

Political belief is a ‘protected characteristic’ for the purposes of the law on discrimination on grounds of religion or belief. If part of the reason for the way a claimant is treated is political belief, even if that is not the main reason, a complaint of discrimination or harassment will succeed.

The respondent considered H was unmanageable because of his refusal to obey instructions he personally did not consider reasonable and his false assertions to others of an excessive workload and of collusion between the respondent and the local Labour Party. There were a number of heated arguments between H and his manager. Following a fair disciplinary process he was dismissed. He claimed his dismissal was unfair and that a substantial reason for it was his political belief in 'eft-wing democratic socialism'; and that he had been harassed and treated less favourably because of his political belief.

The EAT accepted that his political belief was a protected characteristic. It also accepted that if part of the reason for the way the respondent treated H was his political belief, then his discrimination and harassment claims would succeed, even if the main reason for dismissal was misconduct. The only incident clearly relating to H’s political belief was a comment by H’s manager that H was ‘too left wing’. A single incident or comment can amount to harassment if sufficiently serious. On the facts, however, the EAT concluded that H’s political belief had nothing to do with the treatment complained of or his dismissal. His discrimination and unfair dismissal claims therefore failed.

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