Gray v Mulberry Company (Design) Ltd UKEAT/0040/17/DA

Appeal against a decision of the ET that the Claimant did not hold a philosophical belief that was capable of protection under the 2010 Act. Appeal dismissed.

The Claimant was dismissed by the Respondent for failing to sign a Copyright Agreement ("the Agreement") as a condition of continued employment. The effect of the Agreement would be to confer certain rights on the Respondent in respect of works created by the Claimant. The Claimant refused to sign the Agreement because of her professed belief in "the statutory human or moral right to own the copyright and moral rights of her own creative works and output". The issue in this appeal was whether that belief amounts to a belief within the meaning of section 10(2) of the Equality Act 2010 ("the 2010 Act") and whether the Claimant was the subject of indirect discrimination on the grounds of that belief. The ET approached the issue of belief by reference to the questions set out in Grainger plc v Nicholson [2010] ICR 360 and paragraph 2.59 of the EHRC's Code of Practice on Employment. The ET found that the Claimant did not hold a philosophical belief that was capable of protection under the 2010 Act, and, if they were wrong about that, rejected the claim of direct discrimination on the basis that her dismissal was due to her failure to sign the Agreement and not because of her philosophical beliefs, of which the Respondent had no understanding and knowledge. The ET also found that the appropriate comparator to the claim of direct discrimination would have been treated in the same way. As to the claim of indirect discrimination, the ET found the PCP in question, namely the requirement to sign the Agreement or be dismissed, was not shown to have put other persons sharing her belief at a particular disadvantage. The Claimant appealed.

The EAT dismissed the appeal. In circumstances where the Claimant had not done anything in relation to her employment that amounted to an expression of her belief, the Tribunal's conclusion that the belief did not satisfy the fourth Grainger criterion was one that was open to it on the facts. In relation to the claim of indirect discrimination, the ET was correct to find that group disadvantage had not been made out. The sole adherent of a philosophical belief, who is unable to establish any group disadvantage, cannot succeed in a claim of indirect discrimination. Finally, the ET's conclusion that the Respondent's PCP was a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim was correct.

Published: 20/07/2018 16:35