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A British man has been told he can take his employer to tribunal on the grounds he was unfairly dismissed because his views on climate change constitute a religious belief.
Tim Nicholson was employed as head of sustainability by a company in Oxfordshire and was made redundant in 2008. He maintained that his beliefs had contributed to his dismissal and earlier this year, a court ruled he could claim for unfair dismissal under employment equality laws. His employers appealed against the ruling on the grounds that his views on climate change were politically-motivated.
But now a court has refused the appeal and ruled that Nicholson’s beliefs came under the Employment Equality (Religion and Belief) Regulations 2003 that covers “any religion, religious belief, or philosophical belief”, forbidding employers to persecute staff on religious grounds.
His solicitor said: “Essentially what the judgment says is that a belief in man-made climate change and the alleged resulting moral imperative is capable of being a philosophical belief and is therefore protected by the 2003 religion or belief regulations.”
Nicholson said he was ‘delighted by the judgement for himself and other people who may feel they are discriminated against because of their views on climate change’. He maintained that his deeply-held belief in man-made climate change ‘affected his whole lifestyle’ and had ‘put him at odds’ with other senior staff.
A spokesman for Nicholson’s ex-employer, real estate outfit Grainger, said that the decision merely confirms that extreme views on the importance of environmental protection amount to a philosophical belief and maintained that the the redundancy was ‘driven solely by the operational needs of the company during a period of extraordinary market turbulence, which also required other structural changes to be made within the company’.