The line between expressing a protected belief and objectionable conduct can be thin. HR professionals play a vital role in ensuring that the workplace remains a space for diversity, inclusion, and mutual respect.

A recent ET case – Miller v University of Bristol

The Claimant was dismissed after voicing anti-Zionist views, describing Zionism as “inherently racist, imperialist and colonial”.  Despite earlier internal investigations clearing him of anti-Semitism and allowing him to keep his job, his was later dismissed after engaging with the media about perceived attacks from Jewish societies within the University.

The unanimous judgment of the tribunal was that the Claimant’s anti-Zionist beliefs qualified as a philosophical belief and as a protected characteristic under s10 Equality Act 2010. His claim for direct discrimination succeeded, the dismissal was tainted by discrimination.

The compensation awarded by the tribunal was reduced due to the Claimant’s contributory actions. This case emphasises that the tribunal’s role is to assess whether a view meets the test for a protected belief, not to determine the validity of the belief itself.

What Should Employers Do? Actionable Steps

  1. Training: Implement mandatory Equality & Diversity training for all your employees.

  2. Policy Review: Regularly update your social media and Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) policies to reflect current legal standards and societal norms. Staying informed about recent case law is crucial.

  3. Alternative Measures: Before resorting to dismissal, explore alternative disciplinary measures. These might include issuing a final written warning or transferring an employee to a different team/department.

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