With Meghan being a flexitarian and Veganuary being big news at the moment, we take a look at the new protected philosophical belief! What will be next?
Veganism is now a protected philosophical belief…
An Employment Tribunal has ruled that ethical veganism is a philosophical belief and is protected by law. Ethical vegans eat a plant-based diet and avoid products which derive from animal exploitation.
What is a philosophical belief?
To be protected under the Equality Act 2010, there are five points which must be met:
- The belief must be genuinely held;
- It cannot be an opinion or viewpoint based on the present state of information available;
- The belief forms a weighty or substantial part of human life and behaviour;
- It must be worthy of respect in a democratic society and compatible with human dignity / the rights of others; and
- It is held with enough cogency, seriousness, cohesion, and importance.
In the recent Employment Tribunal ruling, the Judge commented that better protection allows more vegans to be open about their beliefs, and that this can only be good for exploited animals, the environment, and public health.
A philosophical belief goes beyond just protecting employees with a religious belief. The Equality Act protects employees with a philosophical belief against direct and indirect discrimination, harassment, bullying, and victimisation.
Given this, it is important for employers to be aware of such developments and act promptly should there be a concern raised or act / comment observed in relation to an employee being an ethical vegan. Any such conduct could potentially give rise to a breach of the Equality Act 2010 and create a risk for employers.
This may not be the last we hear of this matter; therefore, we will keep you updated in future issues. In the meantime, if you require any assistance or advice on a matter on this topic or any other, feel free to give us a call.