11 April 2011 #Employment
In Maistry v BBC the employment tribunal has ruled that a belief in the "higher purpose" of public sector broadcasting, to encourage debate and citizenship in a public space, is a philosophical belief that qualified for protection under the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003. The judge was influenced by the "strength of the claimant`s feelings" in this case. He commented that the Claimant`s belief was "clearly of great personal significance to him", given his experience of being a journalist during the apartheid.
However, is this a step too far? Should passion about ideas stemming from personal experience be deemed as equivalent to a religious belief and therefore qualify for protection in the courts?
The requirement for a belief to be "similar status or cogency to a religious belief" has gradually disappeared. This shift is not surprising, given the removal of the word `similar` from the regulations (previously the protection was for "religious belief or similar philosophical belief") . The regulations now cover "religious or philosophical belief". However, this leaves us in an uncertain situation, because there is nothing against which to measure philosophical belief. People are `passionate` about many different ideas!