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UK – Is veganism a ‘protected belief’ in employment law?

United Kingdom
A UK employment tribunal will consider for the first time if veganism can be a ‘philosophical belief’ protected by the Equality Act 2010.

An employee who claims he was discriminated against on the grounds of his veganism has brought a claim against his employer in front of the Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal.

Jordi Casamitjana was employed by the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS). He was dismissed after disclosing to other employees that LACS invested through its pension funds in companies linked to animal testing. Mr Casamitjana claims that his dismissal was grounded in his ‘ethical veganism’ (ethical vegans are opposed to all forms of animal exploitation, in addition to not consuming animal-derived products). His employer disputes this claim.

Religion or belief is one of the nine ‘protected characteristics’ under the UK Equality Act 2010 (the Act). Employers are prohibited from treating an employee less favourably on the basis of any of the nine protected characteristics.

In order to qualify for protection, the explanatory notes to the Act state a philosophical belief must:

  • be a belief and not an opinion or a viewpoint;
  • relate to a ‘weighty aspect’ of human life and behaviour;
  • have a sufficient degree of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance;
  • be worthy of respect and not conflict with the fundamental rights of others;
  • be genuinely held.


In its guidance note on religion or belief, the Equality and Human Rights Commission indicates that beliefs such as pacifism, humanism and vegetarianism fall within the protected category.

The hearing is scheduled for March 2019.

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