UK Law Is In Violation Of Europe's Human Rights Regime

In Redfearn v United Kingdom the European Court of Human Rights has stated that UK law violates article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights (which gives individuals the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others) because UK law does not specifically protect employees dismissed on the grounds of their political beliefs or affiliation.

Mr Redfearn, a British national, was employed as a bus driver for Serco Ltd and provided transport services to children and adults with disabilities. The majority of his passengers were Asian. In June 2004, Mr Redfearn was summarily dismissed after being elected as a local councillor for the BNP. However, he was unable to claim unfair dismissal (because he did not meet the one-year minimum qualifying period in force at the time). Instead, Mr Redfearn brought a claim for race discrimination under the Race Relations Act 1976 but his claim was rejected by the Court of Appeal.

Mr Redfearn subsequently brought this case in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), arguing that his dismissal was a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The ECHR held that Mr Redfearn's right to freedom of assembly and association under the European Convention on Human Rights had been violated (although this decision is subject to challenge in the Grand Chamber of the ECHR). It agreed that the UK legislation was deficient and that the one-year qualifying period for unfair dismissal had deprived him of the only means by which he could have challenged his dismissal. The ECHR said that the UK must to take reasonable measures to protect all employees from dismissal on ground of political opinion, either through creating an exception to the qualifying...

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