Monday, 7 September 2009

God and Employment Law

It may look like a silly decision and to be honest it is but for different reasons than you might think. A man called Tim Nicholson has won an employment tribunal against his former employer.
They fired him, he claimed, because his views on Climate change differed from theirs. It is an odd reason to fire someone I know especially as he was the former head of sustainability at Newcastle-based Grainger plc. You would think a head of sustainability was likely to want to do sustainable things but it seems that's not what they expected of him. You can read more about it here.
Having decided that he was unfairly dismissed he bought the case claiming that he had been discriminated against because of his views and he sited a change in the religious discrimination law which now says that views no longer have to “similar” to religion to be protected by that law.
The judge ruled that his views on climate change affected the way he lives his life and said "[Nicholson] has certain views about climate change and acts upon those views in the way in which he leads his life. In my judgement his belief goes beyond a mere opinion."

Now this is a silly judgement because it equates Religion, the act of having faith in something that you can not prove, with climate change, something that can be proved using evidence and science and dull stuff like that.
What is good about this judgement though is this, because a lot of English law is set by president this will change the definition of the Religious Discrimination to anything that anyone wants it to be. This, effectively, removes the religious discrimination law if anything that I sincerely believe in can be used in such a way. It removes the assumption that religion is more important than anything else. It is equal, in the law, to other beliefs or point of view.
Religions are allowed to flout employment law by discriminating against woman and homosexuals so this is a step in the right direction.
Two things could now happen. Either the courts will be tied up with people claiming that they were discriminated against because they really, really believed that their boss was a twat and now they want their jobs back, or the law will have to be changed. Hopefully the law will be removed from the statute book, as will others that mean that Religious people can discriminate against me but I can't against them because believing in God makes you, some how, more right than me.
We should all have the same rights not to be discriminated against rather than a system that says that you are allowed to do and say things that I find massively offensive about people that I love but I can't say things that you find offensive because, and I quote Richard Dawkins here, you have an imaginary friend.

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely bang on. I wait with amusement tosee what the implications will be for this very untidy area of Law, which can only be the legacy of religions' preferential treatment. As long as it doesn't result in 'protection' for every mad notion going.