The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has found that the UK is in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) as it does not provide adequate protection to employees who are dismissed on the grounds of their political beliefs. The key facts are as follows:

  • The claimant was employed by Serco providing public transport to disabled adults and children.
  • The claimant was a well respected employee with an exemplary record of employment.
  • The claimant was elected as Councillor for the BNP and Serco summarily dismissed him on the basis that continuing to employ him would:
    • Risk the health and safety of Serco’s employees and passengers.
    • Cause anxiety to Serco’s passengers and carers.
    • Cause reputational damage and potentially lead to the loss of the contract with the Council.
  • The claimant did not have sufficient service to bring an unfair dismissal claim and his race claim failed.

The ECtHR found that the UK did not protect the individual’s right to freedom of assembly under Article 11 of the ECHR. Article 11 applies equally to those with views which may offend, shock or disturb.

Key point: there is now a pressure on the UK to change the law to ensure such rights are adequately protected.

The claimant’s rights would have been protected had he had the requisite unfair dismissal qualifying period of (at the time) one year.

It must be made clear that the ECtHR did not comment on whether it was or was not right for the claimant to be dismissed, rather that the UK must give such individuals the forum to challenge such dismissals.

Redfearn v UK (2012)