In Henderson v GMB the Employment Appeal Tribunal was asked to consider a claim alleging direct discrimination and harassment relating to Mr Henderson’s “left-wing democratic socialist beliefs”.
An employment tribunal had found that Mr Henderson had been fairly dismissed but had suffered unlawful direct discrimination and harassment on the basis of the protected characteristic of his “left-wing democratic socialist beliefs” which were held to be protected beliefs. There had been incidents of unwanted conduct by the GMB relating to his beliefs that had the purpose of creating an intimidating, hostile or humiliating environment for him.
Mr Henderson worked as a Regional Organiser for the GMB in North London. his job included undertaking political work as part of the region’s political efforts on behalf of the Labour Party. The tribunal found that left-wing democratic socialism included:
(i) a belief in establishing “socialism through democratic processes and [propagating] its ideals within the context of a democratic political system through a working-class industrial and political movement”;
(ii) a belief in ‘workers’ control, that is a term meaning “participation in the management of factories and other commercial enterprises by the people who work there. Crossing workers’ picket lines contradicts this aim because it undermines workers’ ability to control their workplaces.
Mr Henderson was regarded as an extremely effective and committed employee. the first incident occurred when he was asked to organise a picket line at the House of Commons in November 2011. He did so and publicised it to the media stating that Labour MPs should not cross the picket line. The story was picked up by Sky News and other press outlets.
The matter was raised in PMQs on 30 November 2011 and Ed Miliband was given a hard time about it. Someone at Mr Miliband’s office complained about the promotion of the picket line by Mr Henderson as a result of which the GMB general Secretary Paul Kenny called Mr Henderson and shouted at him, saying that his actions were “over the top” and “too left wing”. Mr Henderson maintained that following this incident he experienced difficulties with his managers. He maintained that he was given onerous duties in an attempt to make him resign. In April 2012 he became ill with stress.Details