For anyone checking social media or reading the news in January, Veganism has been a hot topic. Along with Veganuary and other January pushes for veganism, an Employment Tribunal in Norwich has thrown ethical veganism into the limelight.
Jordi Casamitjana brought a case to the Employment Tribunal with a claim that he was unfairly dismissed by the League Against Cruel Sports. This came after raising concerns regarding the pension fund investments made to companies that go against the employer’s ethics, as well as his beliefs as an ethical vegan.
A vegan is most commonly known to follow a plant based diet avoiding all animal products such as meat, fish, dairy, honey and eggs. In comparison, ethical vegans try to exclude all forms of animal exploitation in addition to this, such as not wearing or using anything made of leather or wool.
The Norwich Employment Tribunal has ruled that ethical veganism is a philosophical belief akin to religion and, as such, is it protected by law against discrimination. Under the Equality Act 2010, it is unlawful to discriminate, harass or victimise workers or job applicants on the grounds of their religion, religious belief or philosophical belief.
For ethical veganism to have been ruled as a protected belief under the Equality Act 2010, it had to pass a number of tests as set out in the case of Grainger Plc & Others v Nicholson. 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 and not incompatible with human dignity or in conflict with the fundamental rights of others.
Although this is only part one of a two part employment tribunal and does not comment on the unfair dismissal, it is a landmark for ethical veganism to be clarified as a philosophical belief, protected under the Equality Act 2010. We will all be watching to see what happens next.
If you believe you have received unlawful treatment or want to discuss your employment rights further with a member of our team, please do not hesitate to contact us on:
Exeter 01392 285000 Cullompton 01884 33818 Newton Abbot 01626 330127