Is 'ethical cycling' also a protected belief?

jgurney
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Is 'ethical cycling' also a protected belief?

Postby jgurney » 3 Jan 2020, 4:20pm

Following today's Employment Tribunal decision that ethical veganism comes under the category of religions or beliefs protected under the Equality Act, I wonder whether a similar ethical commitment to cycling, or to avoiding private car use, might be similarly protected?

(OT, the decision does not necessarily mean that the complainant in the case will win, as there remains the issue of whether his dismissal really was because of his beliefs or to another cause).

This could imply that a person who prefers cycling to other modes of travel due to a belief that travelling this way reduces danger to the public or protects the environment, and therefore whose choice to cycle is an ethical stance, may be protected against being treated less favourably than others by their employer due to that belief, unless the employer could demonstrate a genuine operational need. It could also mean that public and commercial service providers would similarly not be able to discriminate against 'ethical cyclists' (e.g. perhaps local authority rubbish tips/recycling centres could only continue to bar non-motorists from entry if they could satisfy a court that there was a genuine safety problem which could not be overcome at reasonable cost).

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Re: Is 'ethical cycling' also a protected belief?

Postby Vorpal » 3 Jan 2020, 9:18pm

I think that ethical veganism has some precedent in other philosophical/religious beliefs (i.e. some Hindu and Buddhist sects). Furthermore, the beliefs of ethical vegans have been found to meet the definition of religion in some other countries, including the USA. There have been articles & legal opinions published on this particular topic.

Cycling, however, has no such precedent, and furthermore cannot be considered to meet any legal defintions of religion.

That's not to say it couldn't become so, but for now, at least, it would not be considered a protected belief.
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Mike Sales
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Re: Is 'ethical cycling' also a protected belief?

Postby Mike Sales » 3 Jan 2020, 9:21pm

Vorpal wrote:I think that ethical veganism has some precedent in other philosophical/religious beliefs (i.e. some Hindu and Buddhist sects). Furthermore, the beliefs of ethical vegans have been found to meet the definition of religion in some other countries, including the USA. There have been articles & legal opinions published on this particular topic.

Cycling, however, has no such precedent, and furthermore cannot be considered to meet any legal defintions of religion.

That's not to say it couldn't become so, but for now, at least, it would not be considered a protected belief.


Perhaps we should start our own religion of the velo. Some of us are well on the way.
What do we need. Rituals? Sacraments? A theology?
We already have a couple of contentious schisms. Over helmets and Hiviz.

jgurney
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Re: Is 'ethical cycling' also a protected belief?

Postby jgurney » 3 Jan 2020, 9:44pm

Vorpal wrote:I think that ethical veganism has some precedent in other philosophical/religious beliefs (i.e. some Hindu and Buddhist sects). Furthermore, the beliefs of ethical vegans have been found to meet the definition of religion in some other countries, including the USA. There have been articles & legal opinions published on this particular topic.

Cycling, however, has no such precedent, and furthermore cannot be considered to meet any legal defintions of religion.

That's not to say it couldn't become so, but for now, at least, it would not be considered a protected belief.


You seem to be arguing that some connection to religion is required for a belief to become protected. That is not so. The act involved, the Equality Act 1980, clearly distinguishs between religion and belief but protects both. However, beyond distinguishing them from religion it is rather vague over quite what does amount to a protectable belief. It sets some criteria which clearly exclude, among others, beliefs which are not 'worthy of respect in a democratic society' (so for example fascism could not be a protectable belief) but is a bit vague over which beliefs do qualify.

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Re: Is 'ethical cycling' also a protected belief?

Postby Vorpal » 3 Jan 2020, 10:00pm

jgurney wrote:
You seem to be arguing that some connection to religion is required for a belief to become protected. That is not so. The act involved, the Equality Act 1980, clearly distinguishs between religion and belief but protects both. However, beyond distinguishing them from religion it is rather vague over quite what does amount to a protectable belief. It sets some criteria which clearly exclude, among others, beliefs which are not 'worthy of respect in a democratic society' (so for example fascism could not be a protectable belief) but is a bit vague over which beliefs do qualify.

No, I am not arguing that any connection to religion is required. I was merely saying that ethical veganism meets the definition of religion in some countries. I maybe should have said that cannot be said to meet the definition of religion or recognised philosophical belief system.
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Re: Is 'ethical cycling' also a protected belief?

Postby Vorpal » 3 Jan 2020, 10:13pm

For what it's worth, I think ethical cycling could be incorporated in a philosophical belief system, such as the need to protect the climate & prevent further climate damage which could possibly be a protected belief. I doubt that ethical cycling by itself could be.
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Re: Is 'ethical cycling' also a protected belief?

Postby The utility cyclist » 3 Jan 2020, 11:15pm

Vorpal wrote:I think that ethical veganism has some precedent in other philosophical/religious beliefs (i.e. some Hindu and Buddhist sects). Furthermore, the beliefs of ethical vegans have been found to meet the definition of religion in some other countries, including the USA. There have been articles & legal opinions published on this particular topic.

Cycling, however, has no such precedent, and furthermore cannot be considered to meet any legal defintions of religion.

That's not to say it couldn't become so, but for now, at least, it would not be considered a protected belief.

what is the 'legal' definition?
I'd say my religion is cycling, from reading I'd say I most definitely do have a religion, maybe the 'legal' definition or the thinking of those deciding is incorrect and not open to understanding the bigger picture.

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Re: Is 'ethical cycling' also a protected belief?

Postby Barks » 4 Jan 2020, 10:55am

Perhaps you have an obsession (meant in jest pls note)

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Re: Is 'ethical cycling' also a protected belief?

Postby pwa » 4 Jan 2020, 11:09am

I wonder what practical problems could result from individuals' beliefs conflicting with their job. To take an extreme example, what if a qualified pilot employed by an airline decided he/she had an ethical objection to flying? How would that work out? On a purely practical level, surely the individual has a duty to find a job in which their beliefs can be accommodated reasonably.

"Ethical cycling" sounds a bit too niche, and perhaps it should be seen as an aspect of the concern about climate change. The latter is definitely emerging as a major ethical theme.

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Re: Is 'ethical cycling' also a protected belief?

Postby [XAP]Bob » 4 Jan 2020, 3:00pm

pwa wrote:I wonder what practical problems could result from individuals' beliefs conflicting with their job. To take an extreme example, what if a qualified pilot employed by an airline decided he/she had an ethical objection to flying? How would that work out? On a purely practical level, surely the individual has a duty to find a job in which their beliefs can be accommodated reasonably.

"Ethical cycling" sounds a bit too niche, and perhaps it should be seen as an aspect of the concern about climate change. The latter is definitely emerging as a major ethical theme.

But to insist that every desk jockey has access to a private car, and brings it to work, is a bit daft.

If your job Is as a driver than it’s reasonable to expect you drive on the job, but not to insist that you drive *to* work
A shortcut has to be a challenge, otherwise it would just be the way. No situation is so dire that panic cannot make it worse.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those can extrapolate from incomplete data.

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Re: Is 'ethical cycling' also a protected belief?

Postby pwa » 4 Jan 2020, 3:08pm

[XAP]Bob wrote:
pwa wrote:I wonder what practical problems could result from individuals' beliefs conflicting with their job. To take an extreme example, what if a qualified pilot employed by an airline decided he/she had an ethical objection to flying? How would that work out? On a purely practical level, surely the individual has a duty to find a job in which their beliefs can be accommodated reasonably.

"Ethical cycling" sounds a bit too niche, and perhaps it should be seen as an aspect of the concern about climate change. The latter is definitely emerging as a major ethical theme.

But to insist that every desk jockey has access to a private car, and brings it to work, is a bit daft.

If your job Is as a driver than it’s reasonable to expect you drive on the job, but not to insist that you drive *to* work

I have always thought there is something dubious about an employer relying on the use of the privately owned cars of its employees, even with expenses paid. It feels like exploitation.

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Re: Is 'ethical cycling' also a protected belief?

Postby Steady rider » 4 Jan 2020, 7:23pm

Ethical cycling may be worthy of considering a protected belief in some respects. If for example, a person has cycled for many years and it plays a large part of their life and they gain a feeling of it providing the best means for them to travel unassisted and it supports their health and well being.
They could and most likely would belief their cycling should not be unduly affected by imposing requirements that may affect their lifestyle, without exceptional circumstances prevailing.

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Re: Is 'ethical cycling' also a protected belief?

Postby Vorpal » 4 Jan 2020, 8:33pm

The utility cyclist wrote:
Vorpal wrote:I think that ethical veganism has some precedent in other philosophical/religious beliefs (i.e. some Hindu and Buddhist sects). Furthermore, the beliefs of ethical vegans have been found to meet the definition of religion in some other countries, including the USA. There have been articles & legal opinions published on this particular topic.

Cycling, however, has no such precedent, and furthermore cannot be considered to meet any legal defintions of religion.

That's not to say it couldn't become so, but for now, at least, it would not be considered a protected belief.

what is the 'legal' definition?
I'd say my religion is cycling, from reading I'd say I most definitely do have a religion, maybe the 'legal' definition or the thinking of those deciding is incorrect and not open to understanding the bigger picture.

The legal definition in the UK is based in case law, rather than a clear definition, such as in other lands. From equalityhumandrights.com, the following has various sources, explanatory notes to the Equality Act, hansard, and others.
The criteria for determining what is a “philosophical belief” are that it must be genuinely held; be a belief and not an opinion or viewpoint based on the present state of information available; be a belief as to a weighty and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour; attain a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance; and be worthy of respect in a democratic society, compatible with human dignity and not conflict with the fundamental rights of others.

It will be for the courts to decide what constitutes a belief for the purposes of Part 2 of the Bill, but case law suggests that any philosophical belief must attain a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance, must be worthy of respect in a democratic society and must not be incompatible with human dignity. Therefore an example of a belief that might meet this description is humanism, and examples of something that might not—I hope I do not give any offence to anyone present in the Chamber—would be support of a political party or a belief in the supreme nature of the Jedi Knights.

The use of the term ‘religion or belief’ was always meant by Parliament to have a wide meaning in equality legislation.•It was never intended to be limited to established religions.•The concept of religion or belief was intended by Parliament and the European Union to be consistent with the interpretation given to Article 9 ECHR by the European Court of Human Rights, which protects beliefs which ‘attain a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance’ (see below).•Part of the motivation for introducing legislation was to ensure that all religions and beliefs, including non-religious beliefs, were protected. The Race Relations Act 1976 had already provided protection to Sikhs and Jews as recognised racial groups (as a consequence of the House of Lords decisions in Mandla v Dowell Lee (1983) 2 AC 548) but not to other religious or philosophicalbeliefs.•Policy-makers intended the judiciary to determine the scope of the concept on a case-by-case basis. It was not deemed appropriate for government to assess the legitimacy of particular religions or beliefs.


So while something like ethical cycling is not excluded, I think it is likely too specific in scope to qualify. A philosophical belief in the preservation of our planet, on the other hand (and ethical cycling which arises from that), could very well be accepted. That said, unless someone discriminates against you for your philosophical belief, we are unlikely to find out.
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Re: Is 'ethical cycling' also a protected belief?

Postby jgurney » 5 Jan 2020, 12:46pm

Vorpal wrote: while something like ethical cycling is not excluded, I think it is likely too specific in scope to qualify. A philosophical belief in the preservation of our planet, on the other hand (and ethical cycling which arises from that), could very well be accepted.


To qualify as 'ethical', such 'ethical cycling' would of course have to be based on a philosophical belief, not personal whim or convenience, just as someone who took up a vegan diet purely because they thought it would be a good way to lose weight would not count as an ethical vegan. I'm not convinced that transport choices are any more specific than dietary choices.

That said, unless someone discriminates against you for your philosophical belief, we are unlikely to find out.


Quite true. One possible test case could be along the lines in my OP: where a service provider such as a local authority has imposed a ban on cyclists (e.g. at the local rubbish tip) citing health and safety reasons but without providing the sort of supporting evidence they would need to ban, for example, wheelchair users for the same reasons and without demonstrating that they could not remedy the risk at reasonable cost. Another could be where an employee passed over for promotion could support a claim that they were the best person from the job but had been rejected because the senior managers considered them a 'weirdo' because they were a cyclist (and their being so did not affect their ability to do the job).

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Re: Is 'ethical cycling' also a protected belief?

Postby The utility cyclist » 5 Jan 2020, 10:13pm

jgurney wrote:
Vorpal wrote: while something like ethical cycling is not excluded, I think it is likely too specific in scope to qualify. A philosophical belief in the preservation of our planet, on the other hand (and ethical cycling which arises from that), could very well be accepted.


To qualify as 'ethical', such 'ethical cycling' would of course have to be based on a philosophical belief, not personal whim or convenience, just as someone who took up a vegan diet purely because they thought it would be a good way to lose weight would not count as an ethical vegan. I'm not convinced that transport choices are any more specific than dietary choices.

That said, unless someone discriminates against you for your philosophical belief, we are unlikely to find out.


Quite true. One possible test case could be along the lines in my OP: where a service provider such as a local authority has imposed a ban on cyclists (e.g. at the local rubbish tip) citing health and safety reasons but without providing the sort of supporting evidence they would need to ban, for example, wheelchair users for the same reasons and without demonstrating that they could not remedy the risk at reasonable cost. Another could be where an employee passed over for promotion could support a claim that they were the best person from the job but had been rejected because the senior managers considered them a 'weirdo' because they were a cyclist (and their being so did not affect their ability to do the job).

I don't think you 'get' what riding a bike means to so many people, for some of us it's far, far more than a mere "transport choice", it's a way to protest, it's a way to make things right/better, to improve one's mental well being which has a knock on effect to the physical, to cope better with the days stresses and strains both at work and domestically, this means it has direct benefits to many, not just yourself.
it's a way to help human kind not destroy the planet, it's a way to overcome so much bad stuff, it's a way to feel included, social, it connects people on a level that no other transport mode is remotely possible, it's a way to feel a sense of achievement and sometimes unadulterated joy and freedom.
You need to open your eyes a fair bit more and see what a mere transport mode offers to millions of people.