Can anti-Semitism count as a ‘philosophical belief’ under the Equality Act 2010?

An employment tribunal has judged that a teacher’s anti-Semitic views are not protected as a “philosophical belief” under the Equality Act.

Mr Arya lost his job as a primary school teacher after allegations of: pushing and shouting at a child; making sexist and racist comments about colleagues in letters to the National Union of Teachers; and indicating anti-Semitic views to a colleague in a text message and email.

Mr Arya brought various claims against his former employer, the London Borough of Waltham Forest, including one that he was discriminated against because of his philosophical belief that “the Jewish religion’s professed belief in Jews being ‘God’s chosen people’ is at odds with a meritocratic and multicultural society”.

In a pre-hearing review, the employment tribunal was guided by the Employment Appeal Tribunal judgment of Grainger v Nicholson to decide whether or not Mr Arya’s views could be a “philosophical belief” under the Equality Act 2010.

The tribunal concluded that: his belief is genuinely held; that it is a belief and not just an opinion; and that it attains a certain level of seriousness.

However it struggled with the requirement that a belief must “be worthy of respect in a democratic society and not incompatible with human dignity and/or conflict with the fundamental rights of others”. The judge concluded that Mr Arya’s belief was not a philosophical belief under the Equality Act and dismissed his complaints of discrimination and harassment relating to the philosophical belief. His case regarding other complaints against his employer has yet to be heard.

XpertHR has further detail on this case, including how Mr Arya, who insists he is not anti-Semitic, referred to Star Trek to draw an analogy between the Vulcan race and Jewish people.

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