Hashman v Milton Park (Dorset) Ltd t/a Orchard Park ET3105555/2009

Mr Hashman was a professional gardener, lifelong animal rights activist and anti-hunt campaigner. He was dismissed from the Orchard Park Garden Centre in September 2009 after 6 months’ service allegedly because the majority shareholders of Orchard Park discovered his opposition to hunting.

He complained to an employment tribunal that his dismissal amounted to direct discrimination on the grounds of his philosophical belief in the sanctity of life which included his anti-fox hunting belief. Orchard Park argued that his dismissal was on the ground of cost and that his belief did not come under philosophical beliefs in the religion or belief regulations.

The tribunal disagreed and found as a preliminary issue that his belief constituted a philosophical belief. There will now be a formal hearing on the issue of whether he suffered discrimination on the basis of that belief.

Key point: Tribunals and courts are prepared to adopt a bold and broad approach to what constitutes a philosophical belief for the purposes of protection from religious discrimination.