HR Magazine – Rangers fan who claimed football was as important as religion loses court


An employee who believed he was discriminated against because of the football team he supports has lost his case against his former employer.

Edward McClung has filed an £80,000 lawsuit against McClung Strategy and Project, claiming he was not being offered work because of his support for Rangers football club.

McClung testified that supporting Rangers was akin to religion for him, as he spent a lot of time and money following the team.

He told the court: “If people say their religion is protected, how often do they go to church? I would say that’s as important to me as someone who has a religion.”

McClung lost the case as the court ruled that supporting football was a lifestyle choice, rather a religion, and therefore not considered a protected characteristic – a trait for which it is illegal to discriminate against someone .

Learn more about protected features:

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Anthony Sakrouge, partner and head of the Russell-Cooke law firm’s employment team, said the previous cases set a precedent for what can be considered a protected characteristic.

He said HOUR magazine: “Grainger plc v Nicholson established the five criteria that must be met for a belief to constitute a philosophical belief for the purposes of protection against discrimination. The judge found that Mr McClung could not satisfy most of these criteria.

“Amongst other things, his allegiance to Rangers Football Club was not a belief in an ‘important and substantial aspect of human life’ and failed to rise to the proper level of ‘relevance, seriousness, cohesion and importance’.

“Provided the Grainger tests are met, there is no finite list of beliefs that can be protected, but they must be serious, worthy of respect, and must not conflict with the rights of others, so that deeply objectionable beliefs will generally not be protected. .”

The protected characteristics established are age, sex, race, religion, marital status, sexual orientation, disability and pregnancy.

Although McClung’s Rangers support was ruled non-religious by the court, Sakrouge said there were other elements to the case that could have led to a discrimination claim.

He added: “That’s not to say that no case of discrimination could ever be brought forward by a Rangers fan, because one could imagine circumstances where it might amount to indirect religious discrimination, if it really was because that Rangers have historically been a Protestant club with predominantly Protestant supporters”.


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