Ethical Veganism Ruling

Martin Stephen

Published by
Martin Stephen

6th January 2020

An employment tribunal has ruled that ethical veganism should be protected under discrimination law.

Mr Jordi Casamitjana, an ethical vegan claims he was discriminated against because he was vegan and unlawfully dismissed on the basis of his ethical beliefs. He claims he was dismissed for telling colleagues their pension funds were invested in companies involved in animal testing.

The organisation he worked for, League Against Cruel Sports alleged he had given his colleagues biased financial advice in relation to their workplace pensions, against management’s instructions. Ethical vegans avoid all forms of animal harm and exploitation, for example by excluding leather clothing and products derived from animal testing.

The employment tribunal ruled that ethical veganism is a philosophical belief which Mr Casamitjana adhered to and should be protected under the Equality Act 2010. For a belief to be protected under the Act, it must meet several tests including worthy of respect in a democratic society, being compatible with human dignity and not conflicting with the rights of others.

The League Against Cruel Sports did not dispute veganism should have protected status. This was the first of a two part employment tribunal litigation and since the question of ethical veganism has been dealt with, the tribunal will now determine the fairness or otherwise of Mr Casamitjana’s dismissal.

The hearing will commence in February 2020. This decision could open the door to claims by others who maintain their particular “ism” constitutes an ethical belief.

The information contained in this newsletter is for general guidance only and represents our understanding of relevant law and practice as at January 2020. Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP cannot be held responsible for any action taken or not taken in reliance upon the contents. Specific advice should be taken on any individual matter. Transmissions to or from our email system and calls to or from our offices may be monitored and/or recorded for regulatory purposes. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered office: 302 St Vincent Street, Glasgow, G2 5RZ. A limited liability partnership registered in Scotland, number SO 300336.