Workplace Discrimination

Vegan discrimination in the workplace

Vegans are thought to represent three per cent of the UK population, a figure which continues to grow. With ethical vegans now protected under the Equality Act 2010, we’re here to inform you on your rights as an employee.

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What are ethical vegans' legalities and rights?

Ethical veganism is where individuals not only eat a plant-based diet, but also stand to exclude other forms of animal cruelty from their personal consumption such as clothing and goods that contain animal products or have been tested on animals.

In January 2020, Slater and Gordon brought a landmark discrimination case which concluded with ethical veganism being officially recognised as a philosophical belief protected by the provisions of the Equality Act 2010. With the number of people identifying as ethical vegans increasing, the number of claims by individuals concerning discrimination in this area could rise.

When does protection apply?

Under the Equality Act 2010, employers should recognise that mistreatment or bullying directed at ethical vegan employees can be recognised as harassment and further action could be taken.

Dietary veganism and vegetarianism are not classified as philosophical beliefs and therefore not protected under the Equality Act. It's important to note that not all ethical vegans will be protected and you may want to take legal advice on whether your beliefs would be.

What should your employer be doing?

It’s essential for employers to educate themselves on what amounts to discrimination around veganism. There are a number of resources available to aid supporting veganism in the workplace and advice on how to comply with equality.

There are many instances where ethical beliefs associated with veganism arise in everyday life particularly within diet and the avoidance of animal cruelty and environmental concerns in other areas.

Educating staff on the topic is also a necessity to prevent harassment, victimisation and liability. Including ethical veganism within the Equality and Diversity policy will support staff with the required training on how to avoid such instances.

In cohesion with existing efforts created to avoid occurrences relating to protected characteristics of equality, employees should be made aware of the disciplinary actions they may face when in breach of the terms and details of whom to contact to report incidents of this manner.

What should employees do when their beliefs are questioned?

In January 2020, Slater and Gordon pursued the case of Jordi Casamitjana who claimed unfair dismissal from his employer due to his vegan beliefs.

The case progressed to successfully protect ethical vegans from discrimination, a monumental development for the growing population of ethical vegans.

Due to this ruling, ethical vegans have the right to make a claim against their employers if put at a disadvantage or treated less favourably due to their beliefs. If you feel that you are experiencing any level of harassment, bullying or discrimination, our highly experienced workplace discrimination lawyers are here to help you throughout the process, from advising you on a formal complaint to resolution.

Such behaviour towards employees is not only unfair, but also unlawful and should be reported. Our experts will demystify what’s classified as a protected ‘belief’ to provide you with clarity, guidance and support in bringing a discrimination claim against your employer. To speak to an experienced employment solicitor, call us on 0330 041 5869 or contact us and we’ll call you.

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