Wednesday, November 04, 2009

New religion: Environmentalist beliefs now have same weight and protections in law as religious faith, rules Judge

(Telegraph) -- An executive has won the right to sue his employer on the basis that he was unfairly dismissed for his green views after a judge ruled that environmentalism had the same weight in law as religious and philosophical beliefs. In a landmark ruling, Mr Justice Michael Burton said that "a belief in man-made climate change ... is capable, if genuinely held, of being a philosophical belief for the purpose of the 2003 Religion and Belief Regulations". The ruling could open the door for employees to sue their companies for failing to account for their green lifestyles, such as providing recycling facilities or offering low-carbon travel.

The decision regards Tim Nicholson, former head of sustainability at property firm Grainger plc, who claims he was made redundant in July 2008 due to his "philosophical belief about climate change and the environment". In March, employment judge David Heath gave Mr Nicholson permission to take the firm to tribunal over his treatment. But Grainger challenged the ruling on the grounds that green views were political and based on science, as opposed to religious or philosophical in nature. John Bowers QC, representing Grainger, had argued that adherence to climate change theory was "a scientific view rather than a philosophical one", because "philosophy deals with matters that are not capable of scientific proof." That argument has now been dismissed by Mr Justice Burton, who last year ruled that the environmental documentary An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore was political and partisan. The decision allows the tribunal to go ahead, but more importantly sets a precedent for how environmental beliefs are regarded in English law...Cont'd...LINK

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