COVID-sceptic beliefs may be protected under the Equality Act26th 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:
- be genuinely held;
- be more than mere opinion or viewpoint based on the present state of
- concern an important aspect of human life or behaviour;
- attain a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance; and
- 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
Call us on 0800 368 8470 or arrange a chat at www.people.legal/contact 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.