A tribunal has recently ruled for the first time that ethical veganism is protected by law and is a philosophical belief.
The case was brought by vegan Jordi Casamitjana, who was dismissed by the League against Cruel Sports because of his beliefs of ethical veganism. The judge ruled that ethical vegans should be entitled to similar legal protections in British workplaces as those who hold religious beliefs.
It is widely known that veganism is generally defined as not consuming animal products. However ethical veganism includes excluding all forms of animal exploitation from lifestyle such as avoiding wearing or buying clothing made from wool or leather and/or using animal products.
The judge in this case ruled that ethical veganism qualifies as a philosophical belief under the provisions of the Equality Act 2010 by satisfying several tests, which are:
- is it worthy of respect in a democratic society
- is it not incompatible with human dignity and
- not conflicting with the fundamental rights of others.
At the tribunal, the judge said that ethical veganism was "important" and "worthy" of respect in a democratic society. He said: "I am satisfied overwhelmingly that ethical veganism does constitute a philosophical belief."
Religion or belief discrimination
"Religion or belief" is one of nine protected characteristics covered by the Equality Act 2010. Under the terms of the Equality Act, less favourable treatment experienced as a result of a person’s religious or philosophical beliefs of lack of such beliefs is prohibited and is considered to constitute discrimination.
Generally, a belief is interpreted as a mindset which affects an individual’s life choices and the way in which they choose to live their lives day to day.
The law also provides protection against discriminatory conduct as a result of a perception that an individual is of a certain faith or holds particular beliefs, even if the perception is incorrect.
If you feel that you have been discriminated against due to your religion or beliefs our discrimination team would be happy to discuss your case. We appreciate that this is often a difficult time and offer a range of funding options available to help. In some circumstances we may be able to offer a ‘no win no fee arrangement’. Please complete our online enquiry form or call us on 0175 321 6399 and we will be happy to discuss your options and guide you through the process.
By Laura Ogden, employment and discrimination advisor