With veganism gaining significantly in popularity over the last 12 months or so it is perhaps timely that the question of whether Veganism is a belief that can be protected by law has been raised in the Employment Tribunal.
The case in question was brought by an employee of the League Against Cruel Sports. The employee, Mr Casamitjana, stated that he had been dismissed by his employer due to his ethical veganism. His employer on the other hand stated that his sacking was a result of his gross misconduct.
Although the Judge is yet to make a decision as to whether Mr Casamitjana’s dismissal was fair or not, he did make an interim decision that ethical veganism satisfied the tests required for it to be a philosophical belief protected under the Equality Act 2010.
This decision comes not long after a different Employment Tribunal in the case of Conisbee v Crossley Farms ruled that vegetarianism was not a belief that could be protected under the Equality Act.
For a belief to be protected 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 the fundamental rights of others.
Given the different decisions in the above cases it would seem that there may not be joined-up thinking going at the Tribunal on these matters as yet. However, it should be noted that both decisions referred to above were made at the lowest level of the Employment Tribunal and therefore they are not binding on future decisions. Therefore whilst raising interesting issues, it will take a decision by a higher Court before it is clear what effect this ruling may have on employers and employees.
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