Jordi Casamitjana was dismissed by his employer, the League Against Cruel Sports, after he had raised concerns that its pension fund was being invested in firms involved with animal testing.
Casamitjana claims he was unfairly dismissed due to his ethical veganism. However, the League Against Cruel Sports claimed he was dismissed for ‘gross misconduct’ and it was ‘factually wrong’ to link the dismissal to his veganism.
Both dietary and ethical vegans eat a plant-based diet, however ethical vegans try to exclude all forms of animal exploitation, such as using products that are tested on animals or wearing clothing made from leather or wool.
Judge Robin Postle ruled that in this case, ethical veganism satisfies the test for a philosophical belief and therefore is granted protection under the Equality Act 2010. For the belief to be protected, it must satisfy several tests including being worthy of respect in a democratic society; not being incompatible with human dignity and not conflict with the fundamental rights of others.
The Tribunal did not comment on the reason for Casamitjana’s dismissal and whether Casamitjana was treated less favourably due to his ethical veganism, which is to be decided at a later date.
Note for Employers
Although the decision is only persuasive rather than binding at this stage, employers should be mindful of this case. A similar case regarding vegetarianism had failed compared to veganism. Additionally, veganism is rising; 150,000 people were vegans in 2006, compared to 600,000 in 2018. Given this, we may see a similar sort of claims in the future. Employers should, therefore, respect this belief and note protection may extend to other beliefs in the future.