3rd October 2022


by David Green, Solicitor, Senior Legal Counsel


There is a growing trend facing employers, particularly when they dismiss an employee with less than 2 years’ service (which is the qualifying period for unfair dismissal) and the reason for the dismissal is related to their philosophical belief. If that is the reason, then it amounts to discrimination and there is no qualifying period to bring a claim.

The latest case on this related to a Glasgow Rangers fan, who argued that their passion for Rangers Football Club was linked to their dismissal. They stated that their many years of supporting Rangers was a philosophical belief and akin to a religion, which amounted to discrimination. Now all you Norwich and Ipswich fans may tend to agree with that argument. I as a Watford fan, have only one philosophical belief and that is how long will the next manager last. Good luck Slavic.

Employers in East Anglia will be pleased to know that the Employment Tribunal dismissed the argument that being a committed football fan was akin to a religious or philosophical belief. Employees may be more disappointed in this decision, as the burden of being a committed fan often brings more agony than reward.

There is, however a more serious point to make for employers. There has been a growing number of cases, where an Employment Tribunal has decided that a belief held by a dismissed employee does amount to a philosophical belief.  Examples of this include, being vegan or passionate about climate change, or being an atheist or humanist. The one thing that employers can be sure of, is that this list will grow.

This is something else that employers will have to think about when moving forward with a dismissal of any employee, and particularly those employees with less than 2 years’ service.  When advising employers or employees, it is always important to ascertain whether there is any element of discrimination linked to a decision to dismiss. Employees will often raise discrimination normally related to sex, race, disability, or age. The recent football fan case may seem surreal, but it is just yet another example of why employers should take advice on the risks they face, before actioning any dismissal.

For employees, the message is simple, do not get dismissed from your job because of your obsession with the football team you support. If you do, find another argument to support your claim.

I wish all you Norwich and Ipswich fans good luck with promotion. If there are any fellow Watford fans out there, then I feel your pain.

Should you have any concerns about discrimination when dismissing an employee, contact David Green direct for expert legal advice davidgreen@fraserdawbarns.com or 01353 888993.

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This article aims to supply general information, but it is not intended to constitute advice. Every effort is made to ensure that the law referred to is correct at the date of publication and to avoid any statement which may mislead. However, no duty of care is assumed to any person and no liability is accepted for any omission or inaccuracy. Always seek advice specific to your own circumstances.  Fraser Dawbarns LLP are always happy to provide such advice.

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