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Advancing equality and diversity in universities and colleges


Equality case law

Case law helps to explain what the legislation means in practice.

Judges often interpret the meaning and implications of the Equality Duty.  The decisions that judges make become case law.

Case law on the definition of religion and belief

Grainger plc and others v Nicholson, 2009 >

In Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) suggests that for a philosophical belief (including, in this case, philosophical belief on climate change) to afford this protection, it must:

=  be genuinely held to be a belief and not an opinion or viewpoint based on the present state of information available

=  be a belief as to a weighty and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour

=  attain a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance

=  be worthy of respect in a democratic society and not incompatible with human dignity and/or conflict with the fundamental rights of others.

The EAT accepted that although support for a political party would not be considered a philosophical belief, belief in political philosophies such as socialism, Marxism, communism or free-market capitalism might qualify.

A racist or homophobic political philosophy would not qualify as a philosophical belief, as it would not be 'worthy of respect in a democratic society and not incompatible with human dignity'.

The EAT accepted that a philosophical belief could be based entirely on scientific conclusions. The EAT gave the example of Darwinism, which it said 'must plainly be capable of being a philosophical belief'.

Other examples of case law

You can view leading and recent examples of case law on the Equality and Diversity Forum website.