By Colin Fernandez
An environmentalist who claims he was fired for his views won a landmark legal battle yesterday after a judge ruled being green was just as worthy of protection at work as religion.
‘Green martyr’ Tim Nicholson, 42, claims he was dismissed after his bosses at showed contempt for his philosophical belief the earth faces ‘catastrophic climate change’.
He said he lost his job for criticising senior management at Grainger plc – including chief executive Rupert Dickinson who allegedly flew an employee to Ireland and back just to fetch a mislaid Blackberry mobile phone.
Mr Nicholson also found fault with managers for driving ‘the most polluting cars on the road’ to client meetings at which they would explain their green policies.
Grainger contended his views were political and a ‘lifestyle choice’.
But yesterday a judge ruled employers should no more discriminate against workers for being green than for their religious or philosophical beliefs.
The ruling by Mr Justice Burton now paves the way for Mr Nicholson to claim unfair dismissal at an employment tribunal.
The judgement is likely to be criticised by Christian groups who feel that the decision glorifies environmentalism at the expense of religion.
Mr Nicholson said his beliefs affected his ‘choice of home, how I travel, what I buy, what I eat and drink, what I do with my waste and my hopes and my fears’.
‘For example, I no longer travel by airplane. I have eco-renovated my home. I try to buy local produce. I have reduced my consumption of meat. I compost my food waste.
‘I encourage others to reduce their carbon emissions and I fear very much for the future of the human race, given the failure to reduce carbon emissions on a global scale.’
Commenting on the ruling by employment Appeal Court judge Sir Michael Burton, Grainger corporate affairs director Dave Butler said: ‘Grainger absolutely maintains, as it has done from the very outset of these proceedings, that Mr Nicholson’s redundancy was driven solely by the operational needs of the company during a period of extraordinary market turbulence, which also required other structural changes to be made within the company.
‘Grainger rejects outright any suggestion that there was any other motivation relating to Mr Nicholson’s beliefs or otherwise.
‘We are looking forward to addressing the issues at tribunal level and demonstrating that there was no causal link between Mr Nicholson’s beliefs and his redundancy.’
Mr Qureshi, head of employment law at Bindmans LLP, representing Mr Nicholson, said: ‘Vast numbers of people are now living their lives in accordance with their views on climate change and the environment.
‘These are often deeply held views based on the premise that without change humanity will suffer. Tim Nicholson believes that people should be able to express such views without fear of retribution or discrimination.’
Mr Nicholson added: ‘I am grateful that Mr Justice Burton understood that deeply and genuinely held views about catastrophic climate change and the need to change our ways to protect the human race are philosophical views that are worthy of protection. Such views are more and more relevant to our planet’s survival.’