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Whether supporting a football club is a philosophical belief, to be tested by law

Alan Price, CEO - BrightHR
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Die-hard football fans have been known to compare football to a religious experience, but a Scottish man has gone one step further, filing a discrimination case claiming his love of Rangers FC constitutes a philosophical belief. A tribunal judge will consider the case, after Edward McClung claims two companies failed to offer him further work due to his support of Rangers.

Alan Price, CEO at BrightHR, explains: “There’s been a long list of claims for protection under philosophical belief arguments, some more successful than others. Ethical veganism, spiritualism, Scottish Independence and even a belief in never lying, are all considered philosophical beliefs. Whether or not supporting Rangers will be also be added to this list remains to be seen, but the claimant’s case will have to be robust to have any chance of success.

“If the judge rules that supporting Rangers is indeed a philosophical belief, there will then need to be a separate tribunal hearing to determine whether or not Mr McClung was discriminated against on these grounds.

“It’s important to highlight that a judgement in this case will not automatically mean supporting any football team amounts to a philosophical belief, each case will have to be evaluated on its individual merits. However, the unique history surrounding Rangers and Glasgow football in general, provides an argument that will not likely be replicated in any other football team or city across the UK.

“With that being said, best-practice employers will ensure they treat all employees equally, regardless of any personal attributes, to avoid the risks of tribunal claims. Equality and inclusion in the workplace always lead to increased motivation and productivity amongst employees, as well as long-term retention.”

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