An important decision has been handed down by The European Court of Human Rights, which held that the UK had an obligation to provide protection against firing based upon an employee’s membership in a political party that possessed political opinions which may "offend, shock or disturb."
The employee in this case was a bus driver who belonged to a rightist party known as the BNP, who was fired, as the employer explained, because of "health and safety reasons" – that the employee was unsafe driving a bus where 75% of the passengers are Asian (and presumably, therefore, would be hostile or violent to the driver).
The claim of “unfair dismissal” was unavailable to the employee because he did not work long enough to qualify under the law, and the UK court found that because the employer would have fired him whether he was black or white (he is white), he had no claim of race discrimination.
The employee appealed to The European Court of Human Rights contending that European Convention of Human Rights Articles 10 (freedom of expression) and 11 (freedom of assembly and association) were violated. The Court held that even if the employee did not work for a long enough period of time, UK courts still must consider whether his Article 11 rights have been violated, since "this was necessary for the importance of democracy notwithstanding that the views of the employee might be offensive or shocking.”