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Vegetarian waiter lodges appeal after losing landmark legal ruling

PUBLISHED: 10:52 18 October 2019

Tom Clements, managing director of Clements Solicitors in Ipswich, has filed an appeal on behalf of Mr Conisbee in what is expected to become a landmark case for the rights of vegetarians in the workplace.  Picture: CLEMENTS SOLICITORS

Tom Clements, managing director of Clements Solicitors in Ipswich, has filed an appeal on behalf of Mr Conisbee in what is expected to become a landmark case for the rights of vegetarians in the workplace. Picture: CLEMENTS SOLICITORS

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A waiter who claimed he had resigned from his job because of the way he was treated for being vegetarian has lodged an appeal after losing a landmark legal ruling.

A Norwich tribunal concluded last month that being vegetarian does not grant people anti-discrimination rights in the workplace.

George Conisbee, a waiter/barman at the Somerleyton estate in Suffolk, launched a discrimination claim against Crossley Farms Ltd, saying he had resigned from his job because of the way he was treated for being vegetarian.

But after he had lost his case, it emerged this week that solicitors had lodged an appeal following his claims he was harrassed for not eating meat.

Tom Clements, managing director of Clements Solicitors in Ipswich, has filed an appeal on behalf of Mr Conisbee in what is expected to become a landmark case for the rights of vegetarians in the workplace.

Mr Conisbee, 20, a waiter from Beccles, Suffolk originally lost his case at the Employment Tribunal in Norwich last month after claiming that he had been tricked into eating meat or tricked into believing that he had eaten meat while working at Somerleyton Hall.

Mr Clements, in filing the Appeal, said: "This might be seen akin to a Muslim or Jew being tricked into eating pork, which would undoubtedly and rightly be considered a heinous act of harassment contrary to the Equality Act 2010."

Mr Conisbee was not afforded protection against harrassment because the Employment Tribunal found the Claimant's vegetarianism should not be a treated as what is known as a "protected characteristic" and, as a result, the Equality Act 2010 did not apply to Mr Conisbee's situation.

One of the reasons given by the tribunal was the finding that the Claimant's decision to become a vegetarian was merely a lifestyle choice.

Mr Clements said: "We strongly believe that the Employment Tribunal got the law wrong, and for this reason, have appealed on behalf of our client to the Employment Appeal Tribunal and await its decision as to whether to allow the appeal to proceed to the next stages."

Unlike the first instant Employment Tribunal, the Employment Appeal Tribunal carries legal precedents meaning that this case has the potential to clarify the law which could affect the legal rights of a vast number of vegetarian workers in the UK today.

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