Ethical veganism is a philosophical belief

Posted 03/01/2020 : By: Kathryn Pratt

Update! Following on from yesterday’s article an employment tribunal has held that ethical veganism is a philosophical belief and so entitles ethical vegans from protection against discrimination.

The claimant Jordi Casamitjana, a vegan activist and animal rights campaigner held that he was dismissed from his position at The League Against Cruel Sports after he informed his co-workers that its pension fund invested in firms involved in animal testing. Today the employment court has agreed that ethical veganism meets the grounds required to establish a philosophical belief.

To be classed as a philosophical belief, five criteria should be met:

  1. the belief must be genuinely held
  2. it must be a belief and not an opinion or viewpoint based on the present state of information available
  3. it must be a belief as to a weighty and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour
  4. it must attain a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance
  5. it must be worthy of respect in a democratic society, and compatible with human dignity and the fundamental rights of others.

As with any other philosophical belief or religion, employers should raise awareness across their organisations to ensure vegan employees feel safe and respected. Some recommendations are:

  • watch out for bullying and harassment and deal with any complaints in the same way they would for complaints concerning sex, religion, race and so on. Some may view mild teasing as ‘banter’ but it can be perceived by others as hurtful or offensive so ensure your staff know who to talk to if they’re having a problem. It may also be useful to remind employees of the company’s bullying and harassment policy
  • to create a culture of understanding and respect. All employees are different and should feel welcome at work regardless of what they eat
  • if your office has an onsite canteen provide adequate vegan options. Also, be mindful when booking staff events such as the office Christmas party or bringing snacks to meetings
  • make accommodations where possible. Vegan employees may feel uneasy undertaking certain tasks such as visiting a client at a farm. Why not swap different jobs around team members to ensure everyone is comfortable with their assigned task.

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