Britain's New Protected Minority: Tree-Huggers

By Brett Israel | November 4, 2009 6:55 pm

forest-cathedralEmployers in the U.K. have just learned that there’s a word for discrimination against a person based on their earth-conscious, tofu-eating ways: “greenism.” And firing someone for their environmental views is just as illegal as firing someone for their religious or philosophical beliefs, according to a court ruling.

Tim Nicholson, former head of sustainability at property firm Grainger Plc, claims he was laid off because of his views on climate change and the environment. A judge said Nicholson could take Grainger to the Employment Appeals Tribunal over the layoff, but Grainger challenged the ruling on the grounds that climate change is a scientific and not philosophical viewpoint. However, that challenge was overturned, according to the Telegraph:

In a landmark ruling, Mr Justice Michael Burton said that “a belief in man-made climate change … is capable, if genuinely held, of being a philosophical belief for the purpose of the 2003 Religion and Belief Regulations.”

The ruling could open the door for employees to sue their companies for failing to account for their green lifestyles, such as providing recycling facilities or offering low-carbon travel.

Nicholson said during previous hearings that due to his strong convictions he refused to travel by air and renovated his house to be environmentally friendly. He also said Grainger’s chief executive, who allegedly once flew a staff member from Ireland to London to deliver a forgotten Blackberry, was hostile toward his beliefs. The company said it will now argue that there was no link between Nicholson’s views and his layoff.

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Image: flickr / hpeguk

MORE ABOUT: climate change
  • Dave English

    I feel sorry for the Brits, they are so messed up with big government intruding on every bit of their lives, but we may not be too far behind unless we can dump the Kenyan.

  • Marion Delgado

    Nice, I have to follow the National Front commenter??

    Nonetheless, this is crap. Environmentalism is a combination of science and ethics. Not a faith.

    Bad show, UK court.

  • Andy Gates

    It’s the consequence of a weird, badly-drafted law that says any bunch of coherent beliefs that isn’t universally offensive is afforded protection.

    Make-it-up-as-you-go-along-ism isn’t protected, because it’s not coherent. And the ‘offensive’ tag is there to stop Satanists claiming protection for their baby-eatin’ ways (not that they do, but the established religions needed a sop thrown their way).

    Of course, ‘greenism’ if it’s an -ism at all would be an ideology and not a religion. It shares more with capitalism and socialism – a response to and method for improving the world – than it does with christianity and islam, which are inherently supernatural.

    There’s nothing supernatural about looking at the latest GRACE ice figures and thinking “oh crap, we need to do something” after all. :(

  • Wil

    British tree huggers are a minority? What?

    Surely at least 95% of all men, women and children in the U.K. are fervent tree huggers.

    The protected minority in the U.K. should be the 6 or 7 non-tree huggers that are still around.


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