A dismissed employee has been told by an employment tribunal that his ethical veganism is protected against discrimination by UK law.
The Employment Tribunal in Norwich held that the beliefs of an ethical vegan qualify as religious or philosophical beliefs and that the employee is entitled to equality protections under the Equality Act 2010.
The case was brought by Jordi Casamitjana against his former employer, the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS).
Mr Casamitjana claims he was dismissed unfairly after raising concerns with colleagues that its pension fund invested in companies involved in animal testing.
The Equality Act 2010 affords protection to individuals from discrimination in relation to nine ‘protected characteristics’, including religion or belief. To be eligible for protection under the Act, a belief must meet a number of tests, including being worthy of respect in a democratic society, genuinely held and relating to a substantial aspect of human life and behaviour.
In his brief judgment, Judge Robin Postle held that ethical veganism satisfied the tests to be considered a philosophical belief protected under the Equality Act 2010.
While vegans eat a plant-based diet, ethical vegans go futher by also avoiding contact with items and products derived from the exploitation of animals, such as leather clothing and products tested on animals. Mr Casamitjana argued successfully that ethical veganism is more than a dietary habit and instead, is a profoundly held philosophy about animal rights.
The case will now proceed to a second stage tribunal hearing to determine the lawfulness of LACS’ treatment and dismissal of Mr Casamitjana.