- genuinely held
- a belief, not an opinion or a viewpoint based on the information currently available (which would tend to suggest a belief in God supported by no evidence is protected but a rational opinion based on evidence is not!)
- a belief as to a weighty and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour (i.e. not just a preference for Snickers over Mars Bars.)
- able to attain a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance (claiming to be a Jedi on your Census form is not a protected belief as there is no coherent code of Jedi philosophy.)
- worthy of respect in a democratic society, not incompatible with human dignity and not in conflict with the fundamental rights of others (this is a controversial one which appears to involve, with respect to the EAT, reading words into the legislation that are not there and which seems to have been arrived at chiefly so that members of the BNP were not covered by the legislation. Would all manifestations of organised religion satisfy this test if it applied to religions as well as philosophical beliefs?)
Friday, April 15, 2011
Friday, April 08, 2011
The Employment Tribunal found that this meant treatment that was reasonably necessary for that purpose and did not extend to situations where there were less drastic means of avoiding any difficulties for the pregnant woman. As such whilst a man could not complain about a pregnant lady being allowed more frequent loo breaks, Mr de Belin was entitled to legitimately complain about Ms Reinholz being given the high score when his other suggested alternatives would have been more appropriate.
They also upheld his unfair dismissal claim, reasoning that if the measure adopted was unreasonable it was not fair.
The EAT upheld the Tribunal's decision. Whilst it clearly sympathised with an employer that was faced with being "damned if it did, damned if it did not" they agreed that the legislation only allowed special treatment of pregnant women that was no more than was reasonably necessary for the purpose of compensating them for the disadvantage caused by their pregnancy. The measure adopted here was too generous to Ms Reinholz. They also agreed that whilst the employer had made an honest misjudgement it was not reasonable for them to rely on that as a fair reason for dismissal.
There was also an appeal in relation to damages and that part of the case is to go back to the Employment Tribunal for further hearing. Ironically, the context of this was that within a year there was a redundancy exercise within the Department to which the narrowly surviving Ms Reinholz was transferred, and she was out anyway. It would appear that Mr de Belin's claim for damages might well yet (we shall have to see) be limited to the loss of a "stay of execution."
This case is quite tough on employers. The difficulty for Eversheds was that if they had scored Ms Reinholz differently then no doubt she would have brought a Claim (which like Mr de Belin's could have been for potentially unlimited damages!) and would have pointed to the exception for special treatment for pregnant women as a basis for saying that the employer should have scored her better. The EAT consoled itself by suggesting that the concept of reasonableness should protect employers who act appropriately but it will often be very difficult for employers to make fine judgements about what is reasonably necessary and what is not.
The case is reported here.