A former charity worker is launching a landmark legal action that claims he was dismissed from his job as a result of “anti-vegan discrimination”.
Jordi Casamitjana says he was fired from the Surrey-based League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) after telling other employees that the organisation allegedly invested pension funds in firms involved in animal testing, the BBC reports.
Casamitjana describes himself as an “ethical vegan”, a lifestyle that, as well as eating only plant-based foods, involves attempting to avoid all forms of animal exploitation.
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The charity says Casamitjana was dismissed for gross misconduct and not because he is a vegan.
A tribunal will now decide whether veganism is a “philosophical or religious belief”, in a case that “could give vegans broad protections across employment, education and housing”, the Daily Mail says.
“For me, veganism is a belief and affects every single aspect of my life,” London-based Casamitjana, originally from Spain, told the BBC.
“This is not a hearing to determine whether I was unfairly dismissed, or suffered any detriment because of my beliefs, or because I blew the whistle.
“It's a hearing to decide the legal status of the belief in ethical veganism.”
In order for a belief to be protected under the Equality Act 2010, it must meet a series of tests “including being worthy of respect in a democratic society, not being incompatible with human dignity and not conflicting with the fundamental rights of others”.
Vegans are not currently afforded any legal protections in the UK, and The Vegan Society claims that discrimination against them is common in British workplaces.
“If you are having problems at work because of your belief in veganism, or your commitment to vegan living, then this could be considered harassment in the eyes of the law, and is most definitely not okay,” the society’s website says, adding that in other countries “the law protects vegans on the basis that veganism is an ethical or philosophical belief”.
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