Ruling in ethical veganism case could have implications for employers

In the most recent ruling in a high profile ethical veganism case, the judge has decided that ethical veganism is a protected belief.

Eariler this month the judge in the case of Jordi Casamitjana v The League Against Cruel Sports ruled that ethical veganism is a philosophical belief and should therefore receive similar legal protection to religions in the British workplace.

Casamitjana claimed he was dismissed by the League Against Cruel Sports after bringing to his colleagues' attention the fact that their employer's pension investments were in funds linked to animal testing. The League Against Cruel Sports argued that Mr Casamitjana was sacked for "gross misconduct" and that linking their decision to his veganism was "factually wrong".

Dietary vegans and ethical vegans both eat a plant-based diet. However, ethical vegans also avoid using products made from animals and refrain from using products tested on animals.

For a belief to be protected under the Equality Act 2010, it must meet a series of tests - including being worthy of respect in a democratic society, not being incompatible with human dignity and not conflicting with fundamental rights of others.

The case extends the remit of the Equality Act protection and widens the debate on an individual's right to be protected from detriment in relation to the expression of their deeply held beliefs. Where employees hold ethical vegan beliefs the implication of this tribunal’s decision is that those employees must not be treated less favourably because of their beliefs.

 For advice on all employment law matters please contact James Hodgson or Maureen Cawthorn at our Halifax office on 01422 339 600.