Discrimination – Philosophical Belief

Shiva Shadi, Partner and Head of Employment at Davis Blank Furniss

In the case of Gray –v- Mulberry the EAT held that  where the employee is the only person to hold such a belief an employer could not have discriminated on the grounds of that philosophical belief.

Ms Gray worked for Mulberry but refused to sign a clause assigning copyright in her work to her employer.  Her main fear was it would give her employer right of ownership over a novel and a screenplay she was writing.  The employer specifically excluded these in an updated draft of the contract.  When Ms Gray was eventually dismissed she claimed her belief in the sanctity of copyright law was a philosophical belief and that it was a protected characteristic.   The EAT held that the belief lacked sufficient clarity to qualify under the Equality Act 2010.

The EAT went on to say that as Ms Gray was the only person with that belief there was no disadvantaged group and therefore no indirect discrimination.  Permission has been given for her to appeal to the Court of Appeal.

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