The UK has been held to be in breach of Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights (freedom of assembly and association) in Redfearn v United Kingdom [2012] ECHR 1878 by failing to put in place measures to protect employees from dismissal due to political opinion or affiliation.

Mr Redfearn was a bus driver in the Bradford area and most of his passengers were Asian.  He was dismissed summarily after he was elected as the local councillor for the BNP.  His employer's primary reasons for dismissing him were that his BNP membership posed a health and safety risk because the BNP was openly hostile towards Asian ethnic groups, and his membership could jeopardise his employer's contract with Bradford Council.  Mr Redfearn claimed race discrimination but his claim was dismissed by the Court of Appeal on the basis that he had not been treated less favourably because of his race, but because of his BNP membership.  Mr Redfearn took his claim to the European Court of Human rights (ECHR) on the grounds that his dismissal interfered with his Article 11 right to freedom of assembly.  The ECHR held that national authorities should provide protection against dismissals motivated by an employee's political affiliation and that the UK's efforts in this regard were inadequate. Mr Redfearn was unprotected both against unfair dismissal and discrimination.

Although the ruling will have no immediate effect on private sector employers (because the Human Rights Act is not directly enforceable against private companies), members of the BNP or other extremist political parties may be encouraged to bring similar claims.  The UK will now be expected to take appropriate measures to protect employees from dismissal motivated by an employee's political affiliation, regardless of the views of that party.