Activist's landmark court battle to make ethical veganism a legally protected belief
PUBLISHED: 13:32 30 December 2019 | UPDATED: 14:15 30 December 2019
A sacked worker is bringing a landmark case to Norwich for ethical veganism to be legally recognised as a philosophical belief.
Jordi Casamitjana, 55, from London, claims he was unfairly dismissed by his former employer, animal welfare charity League Against Cruel Sport, after disclosing to other employees that its pension fund was being invested in companies involved in animal testing.
He hopes an employment tribunal in Norwich, taking place this Thursday and Friday, will determine whether ethical veganism should be recognised as a protected belief under the Equality Act.
"I am an ethical vegan", Mr Casamitjana said. "This involves much more than just not eating food with animal ingredients, it's a philosophy and a belief system which encompasses most aspects of my life."
It comes after a similar, unsuccessful case was heard at the Norwich employment tribunal in September, of Beccles waiter George Conisbee, 20, who claimed he resigned from his job at Somerleyton estate because of the way he was treated for being vegetarian.
But the tribunal ruled vegetarianism as a lifestyle choice as opposed to a belief of similar status or cogency to a religious belief.
However, Judge Postle made a distinction between veganism and vegetarianism, describing the former to have "clear cogency and cohesion".
Slater and Gordon lawyer Peter Daly, who is representing Mr Casamitjana, said the case, if successful, will entitle ethical vegans protection from discrimination.
According to court documents, the charity is claiming Mr Casamitjana was sacked in April last year for gross misconduct by "failing to follow reasonable management instructions".
A spokesman said: "The League Against Cruel Sports is an inclusive employer and as this is a hearing to decide whether veganism should be a protected status, something which the League does not contest, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further."
In a witness statement published online, Mr Casamitjana lists how veganism dictates every aspect of his life.
"If my destination is within an hour walking distance I would walk there... to avoid accidental crashes with insects or birds that may occur when taking a bus," he said.
He also states he does not figs as they have a symbiotic relationship with a particular wasp.
"You can therefore not be sure whether any of the wasps' larvae is still inside," he added.
"I try to avoid sitting in leather seats or holding onto leather straps - as are sometimes present on some forms of public transport."