When is a religious or political belief appropriate?


Employment Appeal Tribunal to consider when a manifestation of a religious or political belief is appropriate


Cloister’s barristers, Ed Williams and Sarah Fraser Butlin, are instructed in the case of GMB v Henderson which will be of fundamental importance to all discrimination lawyers.

Keith Henderson was employed as a regional organiser in the General Municipal Boilermakers Union’s (GMB) London region. His job involved undertaking political work as part of the region’s political efforts on behalf of the Labour party.

Mr Henderson was dismissed for gross misconduct following a series of incidents. His appeal is against a finding that he was fairly dismissed because he was unmanageable.

He claimed that he was unfairly dismissed because of his philosophical belief in “left wing democratic socialism” contrary to the Equality Act 2010.

The union is cross-appealing against the finding that he was discriminated against contrary to the 2010 Act.

The appeal will consider how a tribunal should analyse claims of discrimination and particularly the difficult interrelationship between comparators, the reason why and the burden of proof.

It will be considering when a manifestation of a religious or political belief is appropriate and it is hoped that clear guidelines for Tribunals will be given in dealing with these kinds of cases.

The case is particularly interesting as it deals with the questions of an employee¹s left wing democratic socialism and what constitutes an appropriate manifestation of that behaviour in the workplace.

This case was highlighted as one of the top 50 for 2015 by Michael Rubinstein in his annual review of upcoming cases.