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If Vegetarianism isn't a philosophical belief is veganism?

We recently write a piece on Conisbee v Crossley Farms Ltd where the Employment Tribunal were asked to consider whether vegetarianism is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.

You can find our article here!

While the Tribunal found that Mr Consibee had a clear belief in vegetarianism and animal welfare which was genuinely held, they did not agree with his assertion that it amounted to a s.10 philosophical belief.

The Tribunal clarified that it was not sufficient to merely have an opinion based on logic. The belief under consideration was required to have a similar status or cogency to religious beliefs in order to be afforded protection.

So what about veganism? 

The case of Casamitjana v League Against Cruel Sports is awaiting a hearing at the Employment Tribunal but some consider that the claimant's "ethical veganism" may be found to be a protected philosophical belief under the Equality Act 2010.

The court will have to consider the test laid down in Grainger plc v Nicholson by the Employment Appeal Tribunal that a claimant needs to satisfy the following for a philosophical belief to receive protection under the Equality Act 2010:

●      the belief must be genuinely held;

●      it must be a belief (and not an opinion or viewpoint based on the present state of information available);

●      it must be a belief as to a weighty and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour;

●      it must attain a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance; and

●      it must be worthy of respect in a democratic society, be compatible with human dignity and not conflict with the fundamental rights of others.

So far the courts have been reluctant to beliefs such as vegetarianism and vegan as philosophical beliefs, the boundaries are being tested. Presently, the courts are using a restricted interpretation to attempt to best reflect the drafting intentions behind the provision.

For employers, this means being aware, taking advice, ensuring that staff are adequately trained and seeking advice.

Posted on 4 December, 2019 by Ortolan

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