Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

In Gray v Mulberry Company (Design) Ltd UKEAT/0040/17 the Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) held that a dismissed employee’s belief in the right to own the output of her own creative work could not amount, in this instance, to a ‘philosophical belief’.

The factual background of Gray v Mulberry Company (Design) Ltd

Ms Gray commenced employment with Mulberry Company (Design) Ltd (“Mulberry”) in 2015 as a market support assistant; she was also at the relevant times a write and a film-maker. In her role Ms Gray had access to some of Mulberry’s designs ahead of their market launch.

At the start of Ms Gray’s employment with Mulberry she was asked to sign a contract of employment. The contract of employment contained a confidentiality clause as well as a clause relating to intellectual property – the intellectual property clause provided that Ms Gray would assign the copyright and other proprietary rights to Mulberry in respect of all works and designs originated, conceived, written or made by her in the course of her employment.

Ms Gray objected to the intellectual property clause as she claimed that it would interfere with her own work as a writer and film-maker; she was worried that this clause meant that intellectual property that she created outside of her employment could be assigned to Mulberry.

In response to the concerns she raised Mulberry agreed to amend the intellectual property clause so that it was clear that the only work that would be relevant to the clause was work that related to its business; however, Ms Gray still refused to sign the agreement. After several meetings it became clear to Mulberry HR that Ms Gray would not sign the agreement and she was dismissed for refusing to comply with her contract of employment. During her employment Ms Gray had not asserted that she held any form of relevant philosophical belief, nor did she assert that she was dismissed because of such.

Ms Gray subsequently made a clam in the Employment Tribunal for direct and indirect discrimination on grounds of philosophical belief. She described her belief as “the statutory moral or human right to own the copyright and moral rights of her own creative works and output.”

The Employment Tribunal rejected Ms Gray’s claims, finding that her belief was genuinely held and concerned a substantial and weighty aspect of human life, but that the belief was not sufficiently cohesive to be defined as a “philosophical belief” under section 10(2) Equality Act 2010 (applying the “Grainger formula”, as analysed in this post).

Ms Gray appealed against this decision to the EAT.

The decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal

The EAT dismissed the appeal, finding that the Tribunal had not made an error of law in its application of the Grainger criteria.

The EAT further held that the reason for her dismissal was because she had signed her contract of employment – whilst this refusal may have been prompted by her belief, it did not mean that she had been dismissed because she had manifested her belief: she had not made her belief known to her employer and the only reason that she had given for refusing to sign her contract was that Mulberry might gain rights over her creative output; there was not at any point an assertion that her refusal to sign her contract was driven by a philosophical belief she held.

Our solicitors’ comments on Gray v Mulberry Company (Design) Ltd

Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “This case shows that a ‘philosophical belief’ should normally be some sort of ‘philosophical touchstone’ and divorced from the relevant claimant’s personal and commercial interests”.

The full decision of the EAT in Gray v Mulberry Company (Design) Ltd UKEAT/0040/17 can be found here

About

Redmans Employment Team deal with employment matters for both employers and employees, including drafting employment contracts and policies, advising employers and employees on compromise agreements, handling day-to-day HR issues, advising on restructures, and handling Employment Tribunal cases for both employers and employees Call 020 3397 3603 to speak to one of the members of our employment team or email us on enquiries@redmans.co.uk. Redmans have offices in Richmond, Chiswick, Hammersmith, Fulham, Kingston, Wimbledon, Ealing, Kings Cross and Marylebone (meetings strictly by appointment only).

Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

Share →

Our awards

Request a callback

    Your first name (required)

    Your last name (required)

    Your email (required)

    Your telephone number (required)

    Brief details of your enquiry

    Contact us

    Please feel free to discuss your own position and concerns. Contact your nearest office on:

    T: 020 3397 3603
    E: enquiries@redmans.co.uk
    W: www.redmans.co.uk

    Testimonials

    4.78 Average

    269 Reviews

    Sue W

    The people at Redmans talk to you with respect and make you feel like they take your situation personal. They clearly care and are extremely professional. I have recommended Redmans to many people.

    Posted 3 days ago

    Anonymous

    Redmans Solicitors were consistently prompt, efficient and professional from the start of my reaching out to them for support in relation to contentious negotiations of an employment matter that continued for almost two months resulting in a positive settlement agreement. Chris Hadrill was diligent, thorough, empathetic and objective in his advice and guidance, showing deep and broad knowledge of the law and legal processes plus extensive practical experience in handling complex matters, resulting in clear and pragmatic advice in ambiguous circumstances that resulted in a very good outcome. I fully recommend Chris Hadrill and Redmans Solicitors! I have made this review anonymous purely because of the confidentiality obligations in the settlement agreement concluded.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Michelle W

    Redmans solicitors provided legal support and advice for a settlement agreement. Excellent customer service, very professional. The senior associate solicitor kept me updated throughout the process, showed empathy and the agreement was signed-off / completed within the agreed timeline.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Mark W

    Redmans Solicitors were extremely professional and helpful! Chris Hadrill handled my case and was an amazing help! His guidance, advice and understanding to my redundancy settlement were always clear, concise and very helpful and I am very grateful to him, and glad I found Redmans to help with my settlement. I highly recommend them!

    Posted 1 month ago

    Alison M

    Very happy with the advice I received

    Posted 1 month ago

    Margaret A

    I found everything about the company to be extremely professional and efficient. During my initial contact with Chris, he listened well and was reassuring, so I felt confident that my case would be well handled. Caroline was excellent at explaining all the legal points and answering my questions, as well as being very supportive and understanding throughout the process. I would definitely recommend this company.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Sanja K

    Very efficient and professional service.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    I found the advice I was given by Redmans Solicitors to be clear and useful and found the solicitor on my case to be both knowledgeable and approachable.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Karen T

    Great service. Thank you.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    Excellent service from Chris & Mel Chin. The best outcome was achieved from the redundancy process. They were extremely thorough, listened carefully and acted swiftly on my behalf. I highly recommend Redmans Solicitors

    Posted 1 month ago

    Shanine M

    Excellent service, thank you so much!

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    I found Caroline and Chris very Helpful and provided excellent service. Caroline especially provided great legal advice and made me feel at ease with the whole process. I would highly recommend them. Thank you!

    Posted 1 month ago

    Gayle B

    Excellent company very professional would definitely recommend

    Posted 1 month ago

    Alex K

    Redmans provided an excellent service, timely and effective. Will definitely recommend.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    Great job done on my employment law

    Posted 1 month ago

    Dominica S

    Caroline & Chris were very prompt and efficient.Very happy with the service and will definitely recommend Redmans Solicitor to everyone !

    Posted 1 month ago

    Sandra K

    If you are looking for a group of solicitors who are Professional, Caring and on point, then look no futher than Redmans. I was literally hand held through out my case. Can not find fault with this company, very happy with the result and the service i received. Would highly recommend Redmans.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    I found dealing with Redmans a pleasure. I got to speak to someone quickly, the advice was profferred promplty and the service was not 'pushy'. In addition, the administration was excellent. What more could you ask for?

    Posted 1 month ago

    ALISDAIR L

    Redmans did a brilliant job regarding my redundancy agreement. I miss read an extra charge which wasnt the case so doing a new review to clarify. I would recommend Redmans for any employment law issues you may have.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Christos G

    Great legal advice and quick correspondence. Very supportive and helpful through the entire process. Thank you Redmans!

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    Chris Hadrill advised me on a redundancy settlement agreement. He was very responsive, easy to deal with and gave me good advice at a stressful time.

    Posted 2 months ago