Public and human rights firm Bindmans is to test whether ‘ethical veganism’ can be considered a philosophical belief under the Equality Act 2010.
The firm said its client Jordi Casamitjana was dismissed by his employer, animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS), after he raised concerns that its pension fund was being invested into companies that tested products on animals. He claimed the decision to fire him was on account of his philosophical belief in ethical veganism. The charity rejects the claim.
Bindmans said a case will be brought before an employment tribunal which, if successful, ‘will protect ethical vegans from discrimination on the grounds of their belief’. The case is listed for March next year.
Religion or belief is one of nine protected characteristics under the 2010 act.
Casamitjana is raising money for his legal fees on the Crowdjustice website. At the time of publication, he had raised nearly £6,000 of a £40,000 target.
Hayley Trovato, senior associate in the employment team at full service firm OGR Stock Denton, said the claim could theoretically succeed. She referred to the 2010 case Grainger plc v Nicholson, in which philosophical belief was defined as having to be a ‘genuinely held’ belief and not simply an opinion, clear and logical, and worthy of respect in a democratic society.
Trovato said: ‘Although the above criteria do have the potential to be very widely construed … a person who rejects the consumption of animals in all of its forms out of an ethical commitment through veganism, could realistically, be considered to hold a belief covered by the act.’
Peter Daly, who is acting for Casamitjana said: ‘Ethical veganism is more than simply a dietary choice. It is a particular and well-defined philosophical view about the relationship between humans and animals. It is based on well-considered and substantial philosophical thinking. We look forward to demonstrating this before the tribunal.’
The LACS, which said it ‘emphatically rejects’ Casamitjana’s claim, is being represented by national firm Geldarts.
A spokesperson said although the discussion is thought-provoking it has ‘absolutely no connection’ with why Casamitjana was sacked. ‘Casamitjana was dismissed from his position because of gross misconduct, and to link his dismissal with issues pertaining to veganism is factually wrong. We emphatically reject this claim,’ it added.