Serco Ltd v Redfearn: CA 25 May 2006

The employee claimed that he had been discriminated against. He had stood as a candidate in local elections for the British National Party (BNP) party. His employers had dismissed him saying that his propagation of racially discriminatory polices was incompatible with his duties.
Held: The dismissal was not on racially discriminatory grounds, though considerations of race were involved. The employer’s appeal succeeded.
The claim of direct race discrimination was rejected: ‘Mr Redfearn was treated less favourably not on the ground that he was white, but on the ground of a particular non-racial characteristic shared by him with a tiny proportion of the white population, that is membership of and standing for election for a political party like the BNP. Serco was not adopting a policy which discriminated on the basis of a dividing line of colour or race. Serco would apply the same approach to a member of a similar political party, which confined its membership to black people. The dividing line of colour or race was not made by Serco, but by the BNP which defines its own composition by colour or race. Mr Redfearn cannot credibly make a claim of direct race discrimination by Serco against him on the ground that he is white by relying on the decision of his own chosen political party to limit its membership to white people. The BNP cannot make a non-racial criterion (party membership) a racial one by the terms of its constitution limiting membership to white people. Properly analysed Mr Redfearn’s complaint is of discrimination on political grounds, which falls outside the anti-discrimination laws.’
The allegation of indirect discrimination failed: ‘For indirect discrimination . . it is necessary to identify a ‘provision, criterion or practice’ which Serco has applied or would apply equally to persons not of the same race or colour. . . Mr Redfearn . . failed to present the tribunal with a case, which satisfied the requisite elements of a claim for indirect race discrimination and upon which the tribunal could properly make a finding of indirect race discrimination. . . The employment tribunal appears to have attempted itself a version of a ‘provision, criterion or practice’ in paragraph 5.6 of its decision (see paragraph 28 above). However, it is formulated too narrowly (membership of the BNP) to be meaningful. A provision of ‘membership of the BNP’ could not be applied to a person who was not of the same colour as Mr Redfearn, because only persons of the same colour as him (white) are eligible to be members of the BNP. A more general and meaningful provision along similar lines would be one applying to membership of a political organisation like the BNP, which existed to promote views hostile to members of a different colour than those that belonged to the organisation. If such a provision were applied, however, it would not put persons of the same race as Mr Redfearn ‘at a particular disadvantage’ when compared with other persons within section 1(1A) of the 1976 Act. All such political activists would be at the same disadvantage, whatever colour they were.’
Mummery LJ, Dyson LJ, Sir Martin Nourse
[2006] EWCA Civ 659, Times 27-Jun-2006, [2006] IRLR 623, [2006] ICR 1367
Race Relations Act 1976
England and Wales
Appeal fromA C Redfearn v Serco Ltd T/A West Yorkshire Transport Service EAT 27-Jul-2005
The claimant said that he had been indirectly discriminated against on racial grounds. He was dismissed after being elected as a local councillor for the BNP. The employer considered that for Health and Safety reasons, his dismissal was necessary . .

Cited by:
CitedEnglish v Thomas Sanderson Ltd CA 19-Dec-2008
The claimant appealed dismissal of his claim for harrassment and sex discrimination. Though heterosexual, he had been subject to persistent jokes that he was homosexual. The court first asked whether the alleged conduct was ‘on the grounds of sexual . .
Appeal fromRedfearn v The United Kingdom ECHR 16-Jan-2009
Statement of facts . .
Appeal fromRedfearn v The United Kingdom ECHR 6-Nov-2012
The applicant alleged that his rights had been infringed by his dismissal from his post as driver transporting children and adults with physical and/or mental disabilities. He had stood for election as a candidate for the British National Party, a . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 29 January 2021; Ref: scu.242184