Now a Philosophical Belief Protected by Discrimination Laws
An employment tribunal has held that an employee who believed in ethical veganism should be protected against discrimination by ruling that his belief amounted to a philosophical belief protected under the Equality Act 2010.
For a philosophical belief to be a “protected characteristic” under the Equality Act it must comply with a series of legal tests including being worthy of respect in a democratic society, being compatible with human dignity and not in conflict with the fundamental rights of others.
The tribunal case was brought by Jordi Casamitjana, who claimed he was unfairly sacked by his employer, the League Against Cruel Sports after he raised concerns with colleagues that the charity’s pension fund had been investing in companies involved in animal testing. He was an ethical vegan. Ethical vegans eat a plant-based diet and try to avoid contact with products made from any form of animal exploitation. This includes not wearing leather or wool clothing and not using products that have been tested on animals.
What to do now
Employers always run the risk that a member of staff alleges that discrimination was the reason for their dismissal. However, this tribunal ruling certainly heightens the risk of a successful discrimination claim if the staff member involved holds a belief in ethical veganism. Employers should, therefore, consider reviewing their employment policies and in particular any equal opportunities statement and/or policy. A simple amendment to this statement and policy will help to show any tribunal that your employment policies are up to date and that you were aware of these changes to the law. They should also ensure that managers are aware of the risks of a discrimination claim if they treat staff with similar beliefs less favourably.
For further information or advice on complying with your legal obligations in this area of employment law call Henry Doswell of Doswell Law Solicitors on 01233 722942. Alternatively, email Henry at email@example.com