Page last updated at 16:25 GMT, Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Eco-employee wins bid to appeal

Tim Nicholson: "It's a philosophical belief based on my moral and ethical values"

A man has been told he can take his employer to tribunal on the grounds he was unfairly dismissed because of his views on climate change.

Tim Nicholson, 42, of Oxford, was made redundant in 2008 by Grainger Plc in Didcot, as head of sustainability.

He said his beliefs had contributed to his dismissal and in March a judge ruled he could use employment equality laws to claim it was unfair.

But the firm appealed against this as it believed his views were political.

After the hearing on Monday, Mr Nicholson said he was delighted by the judgement for himself and other people who may feel they are discriminated against because of their views on climate change.

This decision merely confirms that views on the importance of environmental protection are capable of amounting to a philosophical belief
Dave Butler, Grainger plc

His solicitor, Shah Qureshi, said: "Essentially what the judgment says is that a belief in man-made climate change and the alleged resulting moral imperative is capable of being a philosophical belief and is therefore protected by the 2003 religion or belief regulations."

Mr Nicholson was given permission in March to make his claim under the Employment Equality (Religion and Belief) Regulations 2003 that covers "any religion, religious belief, or philosophical belief".

But the ruling was challenged by Grainger plc, the UK's biggest residential landlord, on the grounds that green views were not the same as religious or philosophical beliefs.

Mr Nicholson, who said his opinions affect his whole lifestyle, claimed his views had put him at odds with other senior staff at Grainger and been ignored by managers.

'Redundancy operational'

He said he had tried to set up a carbon management system for the company, but was unable to work out its carbon footprint because staff had refused to give him the necessary data.

Mr Nicholson also accused the chief executive, Rupert Dickinson, of showing "contempt" for his concerns and claimed he once flew a member of staff to Ireland to deliver his Blackberry which he had left in London.

Grainger corporate affairs director Dave Butler said: "This decision merely confirms that views on the importance of environmental protection are capable of amounting to a philosophical belief.

"Grainger absolutely maintains, as it has done from the very outset of these proceedings, that Mr Nicholson's redundancy was driven solely by the operational needs of the company during a period of extraordinary market turbulence, which also required other structural changes to be made within the company.

"Grainger rejects outright any suggestion that there was any other motivation relating to Mr Nicholson's beliefs or otherwise."

The case was heard at the Employment Appeal Tribunal in London.



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