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Equality North East

Dismissal on grounds of political affiliation

A recent decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that UK law is deficient in failing to protect employees who are dismissed for their political persuasion. Professional Support Lawyer Elizabeth Stevens and Trainee Solicitor Laura Tanguay report.

The claimant in this case, Mr Redfearn, worked for Serco Ltd as a bus driver. The majority of his passengers were Asian. Following his election as a local councillor for the British National Party (BNP), Mr Redfearn was summarily dismissed by Serco over fears that Mr Redfearn’s affiliation with the BNP would cause passenger anxiety and, ultimately, the loss of Serco’s contract with the Council.

Mr Redfearn (who had less than one year’s service) attempted to bring a claim against Serco for race discrimination under the Race Relations Act 1976 but was not successful. The Court of Appeal dismissed his claim on the grounds that his dismissal was not related to his race but was motivated by his membership of a political party, which was not protected by anti-discrimination law. Mr Redfearn therefore applied to the ECHR for a declaration that UK law is incompatible with Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides for the right to freedom of assembly and association.

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November 30, 2012

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