Finally – after a landmark court case, veganism is protected by the Equality Act 2010 for the first time
The case was brought to court by Jordi Casamitjana, who we last caught up with in October 2019.
Since then, Jordi has achieved great a success for vegans in the UK – getting ethical veganism protected by UK law.
Jordi claims that he was sacked by the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) following his discovery that the company invested its pension funds into firms that are involved in animal testing.
Jordi brought the information to the attention of his managers, but when, after many months nothing was changed, he informed other employees, and he claims was sacked as a result.
Jordi asserts that he was unfairly dismissed because he ‘blew the whistle’, and was discriminated against for being an ethical vegan, yet, LACS denies it, stating that he was instead laid off for gross misconduct.
Whilst there is not yet a ruling in regards to Jordi’s dismissal (the employment tribunal is scheduled for February 2020), the judge has ruled that ethical veganism should fall under the Equality Act 2010.
This means that all ethical vegans in the UK are entitled to protection from discrimination – so, in the future, cases like Jordi’s should be much easier to resolve, and hopefully, less likely to occur in the first place.
What counts as a philosophical belief?
In order to be protected under the act and be covered by UK law, it must meet a series of tests, as Euan Lawrence, employment expert at Blacks Solicitors LLP, explains: ‘Under UK law, it is illegal to discriminate against employees because of a ‘protected characteristic’ such as the employee’s gender, sexual orientation or disability.
‘One of the protected characteristics listed in the Employment Act 2010 is ‘Religion or Belief’. This term encompasses religious beliefs, and philosophical beliefs, as well as a lack of belief.
‘For a philosophical belief (which is what Mr Casamijana is arguing that veganism constitutes) to be capable of protection under this Act, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has previously directed that it must be a cogent, serious and important belief that the person sincerely holds, that it must be a weighty and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour worthy of respect and not incompatible with human dignity (or in conflict with the fundamental rights of other people); and it must go beyond a mere opinion to an article of faith.
‘It seems unlikely that veganism as merely a dietary choice would be found to be a philosophical belief for the purposes of the Act. However, in this case, Mr Casamitjana describes himself as an “ethical vegan”, meaning that not only does he follow a vegan diet, but that he also extends this belief into other aspects of his life, and opposes the use of animals for any purpose, such as wearing wool or leather.’
Ethical veganism is not merely a diet choice, it is a deeply founded belief that affects all areas of a persons life, ad should be respected, and protected, as a result.
To find out more about Jordi and his case, read our exclusive interview.