An employment tribunal has ruled that Ethical Veganism is a philosophical belief and should, therefore, be protected in law.
The landmark ruling comes following a case brought by ethical vegan Jordi Casamitjana who was sacked from his role as Researcher at the League Against Cruel Sports.
Ethical vegans, as opposed to dietary vegans, try to avoid all forms of animal exploitation in the products they buy, as well as in their diets. They do not buy clothes made of wool or leather, or use products tested on animals.
His former employer claimed he was dismissed for gross misconduct. However, Mr Casamitjana argued his dismissal was due to his beliefs after disclosing that the company invested pension funds into firms involved in animal testing.
He claimed that he alerted his bosses to the investments but they did nothing. It was only when he told a colleague about the investments that they took action and fired him.
For a belief to be protected under the Equality Act 2010, it must meet several conditions which include:
- Being worthy of respect in a democratic society
- Not being incompatible with human dignity
- Not conflicting with the fundamental rights of others
Judge Robin Postle ruled at the tribunal that ethical veganism satisfies the tests required and is therefore protected under the Equality Act 2010, saying it was ‘important’ and ‘worthy of respect’ in a democratic society. He also ruled that Mr Casamitjana adhered to this belief.
Speaking after the hearing, Mr Casamitjana said: “It was very important to win this ruling today because it’s not just my case which is important to me personally but this case will influence the life of many vegans out there.
“There will be a positive outcome beyond me. It will help the promotion of veganism as a lifestyle because vegans who might be afraid about talking about their belief, that might be feeling that they are not welcome, they will feel empowered now.
“They will believe that their belief is now a protected belief. That will give them power and that means they will be more expressive.”
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