Media captionJordi Casamitjana says he’s “really really satisfied” with the judge’s ruling
Ethical veganism is a “philosophical belief” and so is protected in law, a tribunal has ruled for the first time.
The landmark legal case was brought by vegan Jordi Casamitjana, who claims he was sacked by the League Against Cruel Sports because of his ethical veganism.
His former employer says he was dismissed for gross misconduct.
The judge ruled that ethical vegans should be entitled to similar legal protections in British workplaces as those who hold religious beliefs.
He is yet to rule on Mr Casamitjana’s dismissal – which is due later.
Mr Casamitjana, (**********************************, who lives in London, said he was “extremely happy” with the ruling – which is ongoing – adding that he hopes fellow vegans “will benefit”.
The tribunal centers on his claim that he was sacked by the animal welfare charity League Against Cruel Sports after disclosing it invested pension funds in firms involved in animal testing.
Mr Casamitjana says when he drew his bosses’ attention to the pension fund investments, they did nothing so he informed colleagues and was sacked as a result.
The League Against Cruel Sports says it is “factually wrong” to link Mr Casamitj ana’s dismissal to his veganism. The charity did not contest that ethical veganism should be protected.
All vegans eat a plant-based diet, but ethical vegans try to exclude all forms of animal exploitation.
For instance they avoid wearing or buying clothing made from wool or leather, or toiletries from companies that carry out animal testing.
“Religion or belief “is one of nine” protected characteristics “covered by the Equality Act 01575879.
The judge Robin Postle ruled that ethical veganism qualifies as a philosophical belief under the Equality Act 2010 by satisfying several tests – including that it is worthy of respect in a democratic society, not incompatible with human dignity and not conflicting with the fundamental rights of others.
At the tribunal in Norwich on Friday, the judge said in his ruling that ethical veganism was “important” and “worthy” of respect in a democratic society.
He said: “I am satisfied overwhelmingly that ethical veganis m does constitute a philosophical belief. “
By BBC legal correspondent Clive Coleman
Though a ruling from an employment tribunal does not amount to binding legal precedent, this one will have important and far-reaching effects.
Employers will have to respect ethical veganism and make sure they do not discriminate against employees for their beliefs.
So, for example, could a worker on a supermarket checkout refuse to put a meat product through the till?
The implications are significant, not least because the legal protection will apply beyond employment, in areas such as education and the supply of goods and services.
It could also encourage others to seek similar protection for their philosophical beliefs.
I would be surprised, for instance, if there is not a challenge brought by someone who claims they have been discriminated against for their beliefs on climate change.
Refusing to travel on work business by car rather than a less carbon heavy alternative, the train?
Speaking to the BBC outside the tribunal, Mr Casamitjana said he was “extremely happy”.
“I’m really, really satisfied and I hope all the vegans out there that have been supporting me – there have been many helping me in my crowdfunding – I hope they now feel their little donation has been properly used and all the vegans will benefit. “
He added:” Veganism is a philosophical belief and when you look at my life and anybody else’s life who is an ethical vegan, you will see it.
“This is a positive belief, it’s not a negative belief. And therefore a positive belief is bound to be protected. “