Believing in BBC’s ethos is equivalent to a faith, job tribunal rules

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Rules to prevent religious discrimination can now also be used to protect a belief in the BBC’s ethos of public service broadcasting, a tribunal has ruled.

The Daily Mail explains that the tribunal’s

extraordinary decision elevates the BBC’s core principle to a place in the law equivalent to Christianity.

And the move leaves the way clear for long-serving employee Devan Maistry to sue the Corporation for wrongful dismissal.

South African-born Mr Maistry, who worked for the BBC Asian Network, says he suffered discrimination for six years until he was dismissed last year.

He has filed a claim for ‘religious or belief discrimination’, which allegedly took place against his philosophical view that ‘public service broadcasting has the higher purpose of promoting cultural interchange and social cohesion’.

Birmingham employment tribunal chairman Pam Hughes decided Mr Maistry has a worthy case, and gave him the right to a full hearing later this year.

In doing so, the tribunal chairman established the principle that Mr Maistry’s love of public service broadcasting amounted to a belief which should have the same protection from discrimination that the law gives to followers of religious faiths.

The Telegraph adds:

Laws governing employment equality for religion or belief were passed in 2003.

Tariq Sadiq, a lawyer for the BBC, said the case could mean that a belief in the aims of any public sector organisation would count as philosophical beliefs. […]

Pam Hughes, tribunal chairman, ruled: “The claimant had a genuine and stongly held belief in what I will describe in short as the higher purpose of public service broadcasting. It is clearly of great significance to him.”

The paper also notes that in recent months there have been a number of examples where the importance of Christian belief has been challenged.

In England some employees have been prevented from wearing crosses, a couple was barred from becoming foster parents due to their Christian views regarding homosexuality, and militant gays used the legal system to attack the owners of a Christian B&B who preferred — based on their Christian beliefs — to rent double rooms solely to straight, married couples.

Legal Opinion: Protection of philosophical belief under discrimination law

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This post was last updated: May. 9, 2014