Legal Updates

Employment – Race Discrimination – BNP Candidate

In the case of Redfearn v Sedco Ltd (2005), Mr Redfearn was a driver for Sedco, transporting children and adults with physical and mental disabilities in the Bradford Area. Mr Redfearn had a satisfactory employment record and carried out his duties without any problems.

On 26 May 2004, an article appeared in the Bradford Telegraph and Argus which identified Mr Redfearn as a BNP candidate in the forthcoming local elections. Sedco was concerned that Mr Redfearn’s membership of the BNP might jeopardise the safety of its employees and customers, create anxiety and harm its reputation. In these circumstances, Mr Redfearn was dismissed by Sedco.

Mr Redfearn brought a claim against Sedco under the Race Relations Act for direct and indirect discrimination.

The Showboat line of case authority states that direct discrimination occurs if there is unfavourable treatment “on racial grounds”. Mr Redfearn argued that owing to the wide interpretation of the phrase “on racial grounds”, an employee such as himself who had been penalised by his employer for his views on racial matters, should be able to succeed on a claim for direct discrimination.

The Employment Tribunal rejected his application and considered that Mr Redfearn was dismissed because of heath and safety concerns. Mr Redfearn appealed.

The Employment Appeals Tribunal held that:

▪     the Employment Tribunal wrongly concluded that the Showboat line of authority did not apply in this case;

▪     a claimant who himself is considered to be someone who discriminates is not barred from making an application for direct discrimination;

▪     the meaning of “on racial grounds” would not be limited as this was a matter for Parliament;

▪     the Nagarajan test must also be applied to determine whether there has been racial discrimination, which is whether racial grounds had a significant influence on the dismissal of Mr Redfearn; and

▪     concerning indirect consideration, the Employment Tribunal did not indicate how the dismissal was a proportionate means of achieving the aim of health and safety.

The appeal was therefore upheld and the case was remitted to a different tribunal.

Comment: Many will be surprised that this claimant is protected by the Race Relations Act.

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© RT COOPERS, 2005. This Briefing Note does not provide a comprehensive or complete statement of the law relating to the issues discussed nor does it constitute legal advice. It is intended only to highlight general issues. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in relation to particular circumstances.




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