Ex-employee can sue for unfair dismissal over climate change beliefs

A senior manager who has alleged he was unfairly dismissed on the basis of his views on climate change can take his employer to a tribunal, an employment appeal judge has ruled.

Tim Nicholson, head of sustainability at residential landlord group Grainger, said his environmental beliefs were the reason behind a decision to make him redundant in 2008, because his views had strained relations with senior staff.

Nicholson argued his views on climate change amounted to a philosophical belief and should be protected.

In March, Nicholson was given permission to make his claim under the Employment Equality (Religion and Belief) Regulations 2003, which covers “any religion, religious belief, or philosophical belief”.

But Grainger appealed against this decision, saying Nicholson’s views were political, the BBC reported.

Today, Nicholson was again given permission to pursue the claim. His solicitor, Shah Qureshi, 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 had tried to set up a carbon management system at Grainger, but had been unable to work out the company’s carbon footprint because staff had refused to provide him with the necessary data.

He also accused the chief executive, Rupert Dickinson, of showing “contempt” for his concerns.

Grainger’s corporate affairs director, Dave Butler, said: “Grainger absolutely maintains, as it has done from the very outset of these proceedings, that Mr Nicholson’s 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.

“Grainger rejects outright any suggestion that there was any other motivation relating to Mr Nicholson’s beliefs or otherwise.”

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