Arthur Redfearn, a bus driver who was sacked due to his membership of the British National Party, has won his case in the European Court of Human Rights. The court ruled that his sacking breached his right to freedom of association.
As was reported by BBC News, Mr Redfearn was dismissed by his employer, Serco, in 2004 when it became public knowledge that he was a member of the British National Party. His employer claimed the decision to dismiss Redfearn was on "health and safety" grounds, as he could be a target of attacks, which would have made the bus service he was providing dangerous to both himself and his passengers.
Mr Redfearn initially took his case to the Employment Tribunal, where he lost, a ruling that was upheld on appeal. The tribunal's decision was generally seen as a demonstration that workers could be dismissed or not hired in the first place purely on the ground of membership of certain political organisations.
As Human Rights Europe notes, Mr Redfearn brought his case to the European Court of Human Rights by claiming that Serco's decision breached his rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association, and was contrary to the prohibition against discrimination.
As the Guardian reports, the Strasbourg court today found in Redfearn's favour. The court stated:
In a healthy democratic and pluralistic society, the right to freedom of association ... must apply not only to people or associations whose views are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive, but also to those whose views offend, shock or disturb.
The court added:
It was incumbent on the [United Kingdom] to take reasonable and appropriate measures to protect employees, including those with less than one year's service, from dismissal on grounds of political opinion or affiliation.