An employment tribunal has declared that Professor David Miller, a former University of Bristol academic, was unfairly and wrongfully dismissed in October 2021 due to discrimination based on his anti-Zionist beliefs.
The decision marks a historic moment, establishing for the first time that anti-Zionist views are protected under the UK Equality Act.
Professor Miller, a political sociology professor, faced a disciplinary hearing that determined he “did not meet the standards of behaviour” expected of university staff.
However, he launched proceedings claiming unfair dismissal, breach of contract, and discrimination or victimisation on religious or belief grounds.
The tribunal concluded that Professor Miller experienced discrimination “based on his philosophical belief that Zionism is inherently racist, imperialist, and colonial—a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.”
Legal representatives from Rahman Lowe announced the success of Miller’s claims on Monday, emphasising the judgment’s groundbreaking nature.
Speaking on the verdict, Professor Miller expressed pride in establishing that anti-Zionist views are legally protected. He stated, “This was the most important reason for taking the case, and I hope it will become a touchstone precedent in all the future battles that we face with the racist and genocidal ideology of Zionism and the movement to which it is attached.”
Zillur Rahman, who represented Professor Miller at the tribunal, described the ruling as a “landmark case” and a pivotal moment in upholding the rights of Palestinians. Rahman added, “I am delighted for our client, David, who has been vindicated,” noting that Miller would seek “maximum compensation” for the impact on his career.
Complaints were filed against Miller
The controversy surrounding Professor Miller dates back to 2019 when, during a lecture, he claimed that the Zionist movement was a key driver of Islamophobia in the UK. Complaints were filed against Miller, including one from the Community Security Trust charity, labeling his remarks a “false, vile… antisemitic slur.” Despite an investigation finding no further action warranted, additional complaints emerged after an event in February 2021, leading to disciplinary proceedings and, ultimately, Miller’s dismissal in October of the same year.
In response to the tribunal’s decision, the University of Bristol expressed disappointment with the findings but acknowledged the judgment. The university stated, “We recognise that these matters have caused deep concern for many, and that members of our community hold very different views from one another. We would, therefore, encourage everyone to respond in a responsible and sensitive way in the current climate.”
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.