Doing so much employment law training means we have to work constantly to keep on top of developing areas and cases. The case of Tim Nicholson, currently being hailed by some environmentalists as a ‘green martyr’, after being made redundant by Grainger plc, is an interesting one.
Grainger plc is Britain’s biggest residential property investment company. Mr Nicholson was Head of Sustainability. He is claiming that his dismissal on grounds of redundancy from the company was unfair and discriminated against him on grounds of his philosophical belief. Philosophical belief is one of the heads of protection given under the 2003 religion and religious belief legislation. He claims that his strong belief about the importance of the environment contributed to the loss of his job.
At the hearing Mr Nicholson said that the company had good written policies both on the environment and corporate social responsibility, but there was a mismatch between the policies and the way in which the firm was managed. For example, executives would drive highly polluting vehicles.
When he tried to get the company to act in a more environmentally responsible way, he said that senior company executives obstructed him. At a pre-hearing review an employment judge at the Central London Employment Tribunal agreed with Mr Nicholson’s submission that his environmental beliefs could amount to a philosophical belief. This is the first case of its kind. The case will go on to a full hearing in June.
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