Employment tribunal confirms that ethical veganism should be protected by law

Posted on Friday January 3, 2020

Donna MartinAn employment tribunal has found that ethical veganism is a “philosophical belief” and should, therefore, be considered a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.

A case for unfair dismissal was brought by ethical vegan, Jordi Casamitjana, who believes he was fired from his role at the League Against Cruel Sports because of his beliefs.

Mr Casamintjana’s employment was terminated by the League Against Cruel Sports after he disclosed that the organisation invested its pension funds in firms that had been involved in animal testing.

He had initially disclosed his findings to his superiors, but after they failed to act, he then went on to inform his colleagues and was subsequently sacked.

The League Against Cruel Sports says he was dismissed for gross misconduct and not because of his beliefs.

However, in a landmark decision the judge Robin Postle has ruled that ethical veganism qualifies as a philosophical belief, after satisfying several tests.

These include that it is worthy of respect in a democratic society, not incompatible with human dignity and not conflicting with the fundamental rights of others.

The tribunal is yet to decide whether Mr Casamitjana’s dismissal went against the Equality Act 2010, but the judge’s comments so far have been seen as a significant change in precedent for employment law.

Speaking outside the tribunal, Mr Casamitjana said: “I am extremely happy. I didn’t expect a judgment today. This is a very important ruling for vegans everywhere in the world.

“That will inspire other vegans in other countries that don’t have that protection to develop cases that will lead to that protection.”

During the hearing, Mr Casamitjana explained that his beliefs affected much of his everyday life, including his choice not to travel on buses as they had the potential to harm insects and other animals.

Reflecting on the tribunal’s ruling, Donna Martin, Head of Employment Law at Mackrell. said: “This is an important decision that could potentially have a much wider impact. If people with other firmly held beliefs feel that they are discriminated against in the workplace then this could be a test case on which they rely.

“Many will be watching the outcome of this case to see how it will affect future employment practices and agreements.”

If you would like to know more about what this ruling may mean for your employment practices, please contact Donna Martin.