Why you cannot be discriminated against for supporting a football club

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McClung v Doosan Babcock – football club support is not a protected belief

In a recent decision, the Employment Tribunal had to decide whether supporting a football club was a belief protected by the Equality Act 2010 (“EA 2010”).

The employee was a die-hard Rangers fan who believed supporting his beloved football club was a way of life and, for him, a belief as strong as religion. The employee worked as a contractor and thought he had no job because his manager was a Celtic fan.

The Tribunal decided that supporting a football club was merely a way of life, rather than a genuine belief, and would therefore not be considered discrimination under EA 2010.

What does it mean?

Employers will be pleased to see the Tribunal’s ruling as it sets a clear line on what counts as a creed under the Discrimination Act. Employees will not be able to complain of discrimination if they believe they have been treated unfairly because they support a particular sports team, or even if they do not support the same team as the people they work with.

Even if the employee avidly follows their favorite sports team and devotes most of their free time to their team, this will not count as a creed and will not be protected by EA 2010.

Also, on a more general note, discrimination claims can be very costly for employers to defend, but can also mean significant compensation for employees if they win. So employers and employees will want to know how far they can go with their discrimination claim, and what actually counts as a creed under the EA 2010, before filing a claim.

This ruling is helpful because it makes the law a bit clearer as to what actually counts as genuine belief.

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