ET decides ethical veganism is protected by the Equality Act
Tuesday 7th January 2020
The ET has held in Casamitjana v the League Against Cruel Sports, that ethical veganism is a “philosophical belief” and therefore protected under the EqA 2010. Although ET decisions are not binding, the impact of the judgment could be significant.
Mr. Casamitjana worked for LACS, an animal welfare charity until he was dismissed for alleged gross misconduct. In his ET claim, Mr. Casamitjana alleges he was dismissed because of his ethical veganism, after he informed his colleagues that pension funds were being invested in firms involved in animal testing. He had previously brought the matter to the attention of LACS, but alleges they failed to act, and he therefore disclosed the information to his colleagues.
Mr. Casamitjana argued that ethical veganism is a philosophical belief protected under the EqA 2010 as it is a way of life which seeks to exclude all forms of animal exploitation. Ethical vegans seek to not only eliminate all animal products from their diet, but also avoid clothing made of materials such as leather and wool, as well as products tested on animals and seek to ensure everyday decisions have the least possible impact on all animals.
To qualify for protection, a particular philosophical belief must satisfy various tests established by case law. It must be sufficiently important and coherent in nature, be worthy of respect in a democratic society, compatible with human dignity and cannot conflict with the fundamental rights of others. ACAS guidance stipulates that it must be “a weighty and substantial aspect of human life”.
The ET held that Mr. Casamitjana had demonstrated that ethical veganism satisfied the required tests. It is important to note that LACS did not contest the question of whether ethical veganism should be protected, considering it irrelevant to the reason for dismissal. The ET will hear the remainder of the case at a later date.
All information in this update is intended for general guidance only and is not intended to be comprehensive, or to provide legal advice.