There has been considerable publicity around the issue of confidentiality agreements – so called “gagging orders” with employers unsure of their position.
Recently a former employee who was dismissed after refusing to sign such an agreement brought a case to an employment tribunal claiming discrimination. However, her case was dismissed.
The former employee had claimed that her dismissal was “against her philosophical belief” for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010 s.10(2).
The tribunal rejected her claim of direct discrimination on the basis that her dismissal was due to her failure to sign the agreement and not because of her philosophical beliefs, of which the employer had no knowledge.
It also dismissed her claim of indirect discrimination on the basis that the provision, criterion or practice (PCP) in question, namely the requirement to sign the agreement or be dismissed, was not shown to have put other persons sharing her belief at a disadvantage. It also found that, in any case, the defence of justification under s.19(2)(d) of the Act applied.
The complaint was taken to the Court of Appeal, which upheld the tribunal’s decision.
The Graham Agency, keeping you informed.