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Ethical veganism is a philosophical belief protected by law

The Tribunal in Casamitjana Costa v The League Against Cruel Sports has ruled that ethical veganism is a philosophical belief protected under the Equality Act 2010.  Ethical veganism involves individuals eating a plant-based diet but also seeking to exclude all forms of animal exploitation including, for example, avoiding using products which have been tested on animals.

The Claimant was dismissed after he raised concerns that the company’s pension fund was being invested in organisations involved with animal testing.  He is bringing a number of claims against his ex-employer including those for discrimination based on a philosophical belief, namely his belief in ethical veganism.  For a belief to amount to a ‘philosophical belief’ under the Equality Act 2010 it must:

  • Be genuinely held;
  • Be a belief, not an opinion or viewpoint based on the present state of information available;
  • Be a belief as to a weighty and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour;
  • Attain a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance; and
  • Be worthy of respect in a democratic society, not be incompatible with human dignity and not conflict with the fundamental rights of others

Bringing a number of claims against his ex-employer including those for discrimination based on a philosophical belief

At a Preliminary Hearing this month, the Tribunal held that ethical veganism met these tests and, as such, the case will now proceed to a full hearing on the merits of the claims. This is a landmark decision confirming that ethical veganism is a belief protected by law.  With a growing number of the population adhering to this belief, it is an important decision for employers to take note of.

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