In this landmark case, an employment tribunal judge has ruled that ethical veganism is capable of amounting to a philosophical belief under the Equality Act 2010.
The Claimant, Jordi Casamitjana, claimed that he was dismissed by his employer, the League Against Cruel Sports, an animal welfare charity, after he raised concerns about the charity’s pension fund – that it invested in companies involved in animal testing.
His employer claimed that the Claimant was dismissed for gross misconduct for reasons unconnected with his veganism.
The judge ruled that ethical vegans should be entitled to similar legal protections in British workplaces as those who hold religious beliefs.
The Claimant is an “ethical vegan” (also known as a “moral vegetarian”) and an ethical vegan is someone who not only follows a vegan diet but extends the philosophy into other areas of their lives and opposes the use of animals for any purpose. An important distinction should be noted between vegans and ethical vegans as it is only the beliefs of ethical vegans that will be protected by UK law. Ethical vegans don’t just avoid eating or using animal products – they also try to exclude all forms of animal exploitation from their lifestyle. For example they avoid wearing or buying clothing made from wool or leather, or using toiletries from companies that carry out animal testing. Therefore, the Claimant’s claim will not open the flood gate for vegans to bring similar claims against their employers.
The Claimant’s case was finally settled this month when his employer, which previously argued he was dismissed properly for gross misconduct, conceded that he had done nothing wrong in raising his concerns.
Speaking after the settlement, the Claimant said: “After nearly two years of litigation against the League Against Cruel Sports, I am extremely happy with the conclusion that we have secured. The case has established that ethical vegans are protected from discrimination, and I have received the acknowledgement I sought that my dismissal was based on my ethical veganism and was not justified or justifiable.”