Wednesday 9 March 2011

The Law Wakes Up

No more sacking of nationalists for their politics.

Do it = you get taken to a tribunal.

Foxhunting views placed on par with religion after landmark legal ruling
Views on foxhunting have been placed on the same legal footing as religion after a landmark ruling said an animal rights campaigner’s opinions amount to philosophical beliefs.

Joe Hashman's covert video footage helped convict celebrity chef Clarissa Dickson Wright of attending an illegal hare coursing event in 2009 Photo: CHRISTOPHER PLEDGER/REUTERS By Murray Wardrop 7:08AM GMT 09 Mar 2011

Joe Hashman yesterday won the right to sue a garden centre for discrimination over allegations that he was sacked when its pro-hunting bosses discovered he was a leading animal welfare activist.

Orchard Park Garden Centre, in Gillingham, Dorset, fought to prevent the 42-year-old bringing the case, claiming he was insincere and that his views did not qualify as philosophical beliefs under employment tribunal rules.

However, a judge has now ruled in favour of Mr Hashman, whose covert video footage helped convict celebrity chef Clarissa Dickson Wright of attending an illegal hare coursing event in 2009.

The decision could pave the way for a flood of similar claims from employees who believe they have suffered in the workplace due to their beliefs.

In his judgment, Judge Lawrence Guyer said: “The claimant has a belief in the sanctity of life.

Related Articles
“This belief extends to his fervent anti foxhunting belief (and also anti hare coursing belief) and such beliefs constitute a philosophical belief for the purposes of the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003.”

Mr Hashman, a vegan and former professional tennis coach, was sacked from Orchard Park in September 2009 – a day after Dickson Wright was convicted.

He claims he was unaware when he took the job that the centre was owned by farmers Sheila and Ron Clarke, who are keen supporters of the South and West Wiltshire Hunt – or that they knew he had been a hunt saboteur since the age of 14.

He alleges that when they found out, they dismissed him purely because of his beliefs, rather than the quality of his work running a vegetable patch to encourage customers to grow their own produce.

At a hearing in January at Southampton Employment Tribunal Centre, Mr Hashman argued that his views on foxhunting should be treated as a philosophical belief under employment tribunal legislation.

“I know in my heart and soul that living life as a vegan is the philosophical foundation of my anti-hunting stance,” said Mr Hashman, who is a life member of the Hunt Saboteurs Association

“Against hunting I have protested, demonstrated, sabotaged, monitored, infiltrated, filmed undercover and worked politically since 1982.

“I am devoted to the causes arising from my philosophical belief and I will not stop fighting for animal rights.”

The tribunal has heard Mr Hashman was dismissed shortly after the Clarke’s farm manager Andrew Prater – a terrier man for the local hunt who had repeated run-ins with Mr Hashman, recognised him while he was working at the garden centre.

Mr Hashman alleges it was no coincidence that his dismissal came immediately after Dickson Wright’s conviction and in the days following the death of Mr Prater in an accident at an agricultural show.

The garden centre denies his claims, insisting that his beliefs played no part in his dismissal. They claim that his vegetable patch was not making them enough money.

Their lawyers argued that Mr Hashman was not genuinely committed to animal rights because he continued to work for the garden centre after he learned that the owners were pro-hunting.

Mr Guyer added: “I have no hesitation in finding that Mr Hashman thinks very deeply about the issues arising from his beliefs and that he attempts to live his life in accord with those beliefs.

“I find that his beliefs are truly part of his philosophical beliefs both within the ordinary meaning of such words and within the meaning of the 2003 legislation.”

Mr Hashman yesterday told The Daily Telegraph he was “thrilled” that his case will be heard.

“It’s absolutely brilliant,” he said. “It’s quite amazing to know that the judge has listened to my evidence and understood what I'm trying to say because it’s a very hard thing to articulate.”

A date for the full hearing has yet to be fixed.

Mr Hashman, from Shaftesbury, Dorset, added: “I won’t accept anything out of court. I’d rather go to the tribunal and come away with nothing than not have my case heard.”

The ruling comes after Tim Nicholson, a former executive with a London property firm, successfully sued for unfair dismissal in 2009 by claiming that he was sacked because of his strong views on climate change.

Add to Technorati Favorites

No comments: