Employers need to be constantly aware of the breadth of protection afforded by discrimination legislation, and need to have a good grasp of the legal protection that exists for people who hold philosophical beliefs. The Equality Act 2010 offers protection far beyond just sex and age discrimination, and all qualifying philosophical and religious beliefs are also protected equally in law.
This was confirmed in a recent case where a union organiser was seen to have suffered unlawful direct discrimination and harassment on the basis of the protected characteristics of his “left-wing democratic socialist beliefs”. An Employment Appeal Tribunal held that left-wing democratic socialism is a protected belief for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010.
This area can be a real minefield and very challenging for business owners, and it’s always advisable to seek the guidance of a reputable HR expert who can identify potential problems on individual cases.