A U.K. employment tribunal has ruled that ethical veganism is a philosophical belief and should be protected by law as such.
Jordi Casamitjana, a vegan animal protection professional, says he was fired by his former employer, British charity The League Against Cruel Sports, because he informed colleagues that the organization was investing the pension fund in companies involved in animal testing.
The League Against Cruel Sports denies the claim saying Casamitjana was sacked for gross misconduct.
Conversely, Casamitjana claims he was discriminated against because of his ethical veganism belief.
Ethical vegans are people who not only eat a plant-based diet but also oppose all forms of animal exploitation, like wearing clothing made of wood or leather, visiting zoos or using cosmetics that have been tested on animals.
On Friday, at the employment tribunal in Norwich, judge Robin Postle ruled that ethical veganism is a “philosophical belief” and, as such, it’s protected by the Equality Act 2010. “Religion or belief” is one of the nine “characteristics,” which include race, sex, pregnancy and sexuality, protected by the law making it illegal for employers to discriminate on those grounds.
To qualify as a belief and not as a mere opinion, veganism has to meet a series of criteria such as being genuinely held and representing a “weighty and substantial aspect of human life and behavior.”
"[Ethical veganism] clearly in my view meets all the criteria; It is a philosophical belief, not just an opinion. It is cogent, serious and important, and worthy of respect in democratic society,” commented judge Postle in a short summary judgement.
"I'm extremely happy with the outcome of this hearing and for the words of the judge who clearly understood what ethical veganism is. I didn't expect to have a judgement today but the overwhelming weight of the evidence we have provided seems to have been sufficient for the judge to conclude that I'm the ethical vegan I say I am, and that ethical veganism is a protected 'non-religious philosophical belief,'" said Jordi Casamitjana.
“In view of its animal welfare value, the League did not contest the issue of whether ethical veganism itself should be a protected belief, with the League maintaining that it's irrelevant to the core reason for the dismissal [...] The League is now looking ahead to the substantive hearing in this case and to addressing the reason for Mr. Casamitjana's dismissal, which it maintains was due to his misconduct and not the belief he holds," argued Rhys Wyborn partner at Shakespeare Martineau, the law firm which represented the League Against Cruel Sports.