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Leather Shoes Uniform - Vegan Discrimination at Work?

By Principal Lawyer, Employment

A university student in Manchester has claimed vegan discrimination after allegedly being told she had to wear leather shoes in order to work as a catering assistant on the Salford Media City campus.

Leather Shoes

The Vegan’s Story

Dominika Piasecka said that she politely declined to wear leather shoes as a part of the uniform policy, explaining that she was vegan and could not wear dead animals on her feet.

Ms Piasecka, 21, claimed that catering company Chartwells refused to offer any alternatives and instead issued an ultimatum on what was her first and last day in the job: wear the leather shoes provided as a part of the uniform or you cannot work here.

The Employer’s Story

According to the Manchester Evening News a Chartwells spokeswoman said: “A position was offered to this candidate and she took part in a routine induction day before beginning her role.

“By the end of the induction she explained that she no longer wanted the position and it was our understanding that this was due to the general meat-handling required.

“We have a clear policy on footwear for our colleagues and an alternative, non-leather product is available when requested.”

Why Would a Vegan Want a Job in Catering?

Apparently Ms Piasecka understood that the position would require her to serve meat and was able to accept this because she saw it as the personal choice of the individuals she would be serving.

Ms Piasecka actually has another catering job where she wears non-leather shoes to protect her feet.

Vegan Beliefs

Vegans have a great amount of respect for life and freedom and as such they believe animals should be respected as individuals. Dietary vegans do not eat animals or animal products and ethical vegans refrain from using animals for any purpose.

The law protects people who hold religious or non-religious beliefs from being discriminated against at work. Vegans should not suffer unfair treatment at work or vegan discrimination for what they believe in.

Sadly, many people experience unlawful discrimination at work because of the beliefs they hold such as veganism. If you have suffered unfair treatment because of the beliefs you hold you may wish to raise a grievance about it with your employer. Ultimately, if you cannot resolve things with your employer you may wish to bring a claim of unlawful discrimination in the Employment Tribunal.

Short time limits apply to such claims and it is therefore important to take advice as soon as possible.

You can fill out our online discrimination enquiry form if you think you have been discriminated against because of your beliefs. Or alternatively, you can call our Discrimination Solicitors on 0800 916 9060 or contact us online.

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