COVID-sceptic beliefs may be protected under the Equality Act

26th March 2023 2 min read Chris McAvoy

The Equality Act 2010 protects individuals from discrimination because of a protected characteristic. One of these protected characteristics is ‘belief’. Protected beliefs have included a belief in climate change, a belief in ethical veganism and a belief in national independence.


For a belief to be protected, it must:

  1. be genuinely held;
  2. be more than mere opinion or viewpoint based on the present state of
    information available;
  3. concern an important aspect of human life or behaviour;
  4. attain a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance; and
  5. be worthy of respect in a democratic society and not conflict with the rights of

In this case, Mr Ellingham claimed that he was disadvantaged by his employer because he believed that COVID-19 testing is flawed, face masks do not work and are unhealthy and disinfecting surfaces does not work and is dangerous.


Is “Covid-19 scepticism” a belief?

Following a preliminary hearing, the ET decided not to strike out of Mr Ellingham’s claims on the grounds that the above mentioned beliefs would not qualify. However, on the facts of this case, the ET but expressed doubts as to whether they would. In particular, the Judge said:

“I have doubts that the belief as articulated will be shown to have the cogency or coherence necessary to amount to a protected belief”.

This observation does not create any binding precedent but may influence future decisions as the case progresses. It may also influence other ETs when considering similar questions in the future.


We can help

If you are an employee or employer with concerns regarding any form of discrimination in the workplace, including belief discrimination, please get in touch with us here at People Legal.

We are trained and experienced in handling all matters of employment law and can provide you with the information you need. We can also provide training on equal opportunities.

Call us on 0800 368 8470 or arrange a chat at for free initial advice.

Please note the information contained in this briefing is intended as a general review of the subject featured and is not a substitute for obtaining.