0

Is the following scenario proscribed by UK law:

  • An employer mandates that all employees complete an online learning activity. This includes an educational document followed by a multiple choice quiz with a mandatory 7/10 pass rate.
  • For one of the questions, the acceptable answer implies an empirical claim. For example, "What is a benefit of having employee demographics that more closely resemble the demographics of wider society?" and the acceptable answer (among five choices) being "We can provide better customer service" (the empirical claim implied here is: businesses whose employee demographics more closely resemble wider society provide a better customer service).
  • They provide no evidence to support this claim, in the educational document or elsewhere, either through their own research or with reference to published studies.
  • An employee refuses to complete the quiz after requesting evidence for the aforementioned claim and being given none. The employee says they do not believe the claim to be true without evidence, that therefore they cannot provide the acceptable answer in good faith, and hence that this means they effectively have a 7/9 pass rate (if, say, they omit the problematic question).
  • The employer pursues disciplinary action against the employee.

In particular, can the employee in the above scenario claim to be the victim of discrimination?

Does this come down to whether agreeing or not with an empirical claim without evidence constitutes "philosophical belief" under the Equality Act 2010?

11
  • 1
    If you get get that question “wrong” can you still get 7/10? Jun 29 at 15:17
  • @GeorgeWhite Yes, the employee would need to answer 7 of the remaining 9 questions correctly. Jun 29 at 16:27
  • A wild guess - is the actual case about a diverse workforce improving a company rather than lots of consultants? It might make a difference in the answers. Jun 29 at 17:12
  • 1
    Have you considered that an employee may be required to lie to customers by company policy: "A pleasure to do business with you. I hope to see you again." Regardless of what the employee thinks about that particular customer. Being required to memorize and repeat ten out of ten answers should be a much lesser blemish on their soul.
    – o.m.
    Jun 29 at 19:45
  • 3
    This question seems to be based on the requirement that providing the correct answer to a question requires actual belief that the answer is correct. How could such a requirement ever possibly be enforced? Is the quiz provided in a vacuum, or is the quiz given after the participant has viewed some sort of presentation or document which espouses this point? If that's the case, then the "correct" answer is the answer that matches the information provided in the presentation, regardless of whether you actually believe the presentation is correct.
    – barbecue
    Jun 29 at 21:18

1 Answer 1

5

Almost certainly not. The closest case I can think of is Conisbee v Crossley Farms in which is was decided that vegetarian was not capable of satisfying the requirements and definition of being a philosophical belief as protected under the Equality Act. It would seem that the belief that "businesses that hire more consultants achieve better performance" is a much weaker belief than vegetarian, and so would be expected to not be given such protection.

4
  • Thanks for that. What do you mean by "weaker belief", and how is that relevant to the answer? Jun 29 at 16:43
  • Also, is Casamitjana Costa v League Against Cruel Sports, see also this, in which it was decided veganism does count as a protected philosophical belief, significant here? Or is that assessment incorrect? Jun 29 at 16:45
  • An interesting point in Conisbee v Crossley farms is respondents' submission 25, in which the solicitor for the respondents included "A philosophical belief may be based on science" as being from the guidance on the definition of philosophical belief. Any thoughts? Jun 29 at 16:58
  • I should have mentioned: I have edited the question so that "businesses that hire more consultants achieve better performance" is no longer the belief at issue. I'm not sure if it changes the substance of your answer, but it may do: the new belief in my question is arguably less "weak". Jun 30 at 12:28

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.