Norwich tribunal rules veganism IS a philosophical belief
- Credit: Jordi Casamitjana
An employment tribunal has ruled that veganism is a philosophical belief and is therefore protected by law.
Jordi Casamitjana said he was sacked by the League Against Cruel Sports after raising concerns that its pension fund was being invested into companies involved in animal testing.
He claims he was unfairly disciplined for making this disclosure and that the decision to dismiss him was because of his philosophical belief in ethical veganism.
At the tribunal in Norwich on Friday, Judge Robin Postle gave a short summary judgment, ruling that ethical veganism satisfies the tests required for it to be a philosophical belief and is therefore protected under the Equality Act 2010.
He also ruled that Mr Casamitjana, 55, who lives in London, adheres to the belief of ethical veganism.
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The ruling means that ethical vegans are entitled to protection from discrimination.
In his ruling, Judge Postle said ethical veganism was "important" and "worthy" of respect in a democratic society.
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He said: "I am satisfied overwhelmingly that ethical veganism does constitute a philosophical belief."
Speaking after the ruling, Mr Casamitjana said: "I am extremely happy. I didn't expect a judgment today.
"This is a very important ruling for vegans everywhere in the world. That will inspire other vegans in other countries that don't have that protection to develop cases that will lead to that protection."
Solicitor Peter Daly, who is acting for Mr Casamitjana, said: "This is a very significant judgment. It recognises for the first time that ethical veganism can form protective characteristics under the Equality Act, therefore ethical veganism can be protected from discrimination."
Mr Daly said the ramifications for companies which employ vegan staff are "potentially significant".
But Gareth Thomas, professor of employment and discrimination law at the University of East Anglia, said: "While the judge's decision will no doubt be of great interest to lawyers, employers and indeed vegans, it is important not to overstate its significance.
"Employment tribunal decisions are not binding precedents, so it is quite possible - although perhaps unlikely - that another tribunal, on very similar facts, could come to a different conclusion."
He added: "There is no reason to suppose that this decision will 'open the floodgates' for other types of belief to be protected - the extent of the protection for philosophical beliefs will continue to be worked out by the tribunals on a case-by-case basis, as has happened here."
The tribunal will now determine whether the League Against Cruel Sports treated Mr Casamitjana less favourably because of his belief in ethical veganism.
The League Against Cruel Sports said it sacked Mr Casamitjana for gross misconduct and that linking the decision to his veganism was "factually wrong".