Ethical veganism…

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…Is it a religious or philosophical belief?

An employment tribunal in Norwich has ruled that ethical veganism constitutes a religious or philosophical belief and is therefore protected from discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.

The tribunal brought by Mr Casamitjana who worked for the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS), claims that he raised concerns that the League’s pension fund was being invested into companies involved in animal testing. Due to raising the concerns Mr Casamitjana claims that he was subsequently discriminated against and disciplined for making this disclosure and dismissed for his philosophical beliefs in ethical veganism.

Mr Casamitjana believes that ethical veganism satisfies the requirements under the Equality Act 2010 to be a philosophical or religious belief and should be protected by equality protections. The League Against Cruel Sports claims Mr Casamitjana was dismissed for gross misconduct.

The question of ethical veganism being a philosophical belief is just the first part of the tribunal the next is to see if Mr Casamitjana was discriminated against for his beliefs and was dismissed unfairly.

What is Ethical Veganism and what is a philosophical belief?

Ethical vegans eat a plant based diet and exclude animal exploitation, including not wearing wool or leather clothes and not using products tested on animals.

For a philosophical belief to be protected under the Equality Act, it must be:

  • Genuinely held;
  • A belief as opposed to an opinion or viewpoint;
  • The belief concerns a weighty and substantial aspect of human life;
  • It must attain a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance; and
  • It must be worthy of respect in a democratic society and compatible with the human dignity and fundamental rights of others.

The ruling as it stands is non-binding but it may be important to assess your workplace practices so as to make sure that ethical vegans are not being unfairly treated or discriminated against.

For further information and guidance on the practices of philosophical and religious beliefs in the workplace please contact our Employment department on 01773 882800 or email [email protected].

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