Sacked vegan’s landmark discrimination claim
While this is the first ruling that veganism is a philosophical belief under the Equality Act, meaning that vegans are entitled to protection from discrimination because of this belief, it is unsurprising that an employment tribunal concluded this to be the case. Mr Casamitjana’s belief meets the judicial guidelines for identifying a relevant philosophical belief, but also the employer did not dispute that veganism would be capable of protection. Mr Casamitjana brought a claim against his former employer, League against Cruel Sports, for unlawful discrimination following his dismissal for gross misconduct. Mr Casamitjana, an ethical vegan, alerted his employer to the fact that it’s pension fund investments included in companies which carried out animal testing which was against his belief in veganism. As the company allegedly failed to do anything about it, Mr Casamitjana then alerted colleagues of this fact. He asserted that his subsequent dismissal was because of his philosophical belief in veganism and that this was capable of protection under the Equality Act 2010.
However, the employment tribunal’s decision goes against the Government’s stated contrary opinion that veganism should not be a philosophical belief capable of protection. The Government had disagreed with the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) view, following the very useful Code of Practice published by EHRC to assist employees and employers navigate the Equality Act 2010 after it came into force, that veganism was likely to be protected.
This is one of several recent judgements on what might constitute a philosophical belief capable of protection. The last one being that a belief in Scottish independence amounts to a philosophical belief, affording protection from discrimination, following an employment tribunal decision in September 2019. While not all political opinions will amount to a philosophical belief, the next question is whether Brexit related claims will follow!
Even without the employer’s agreement that veganism was likely to be a relevant philosophical belief, this lifestyle choice meets the following aspects of the judicial guidelines in that:
- The belief in veganism is more than an opinion; it is more than an opinion based on real or perceived logic (or information or lack of information available. It was clear the employee held this belief as he made lifestyle choices around it such as eating a plant-based diet and excluding all forms of animal exploitation (e.g. avoiding wearing leather goods).
- The belief held a similar status or cogency to a religious belief as the employee centred his life around it; and
- The belief is worthy of respect in a democratic society,
- The belief was not incompatible with human dignity and not in conflict with other fundamental rights.
Employers need to be alive to the fact that where an employee has taken action (or omitted to do so) because of a belief which they hold, that irrespective of whether the employer also holds that belief, the employer should be careful not to take action against the employee because of that belief as it might be unlawful to do so. Mr Casamitjana had less than two years’ service, but if his dismissal was because of his belief he will be entitled to loss of earnings as well as, potentially, damages for injury to feelings. The tribunal has yet to rule on whether Mr Casamitjana was dismissed was for a non-discriminatory reason, in this case gross misconduct, and therefore needs to identify the reason for the dismissal irrespective of the employee’s length of service.
IBA Annual Conference
The IBA heads to Miami for its 2022 Annual Conference bringing together thousands hundreds of lawyers from around the world.
Mind your business: Safeguarding your business against loss of mental capacity
Practical considerations to safeguard your business against loss of mental capacity.
FT Wealth quotes Sarah Anticoni on forum shopping
"Being the first to file for divorce is not a foolproof way of securing an English hearing"
What can UK investors interested in Life Sciences learn from their more experienced, including US, counterparts?
The recent tie-up between Canary Wharf and Kadans demonstrates the enthusiasm to access the lucrative UK life sciences market.
Helen Coward writes for Tax Journal on the main purpose test for SDLT group relief
Mainly ignored? The main purpose test for SDLT group relief
The Ayes have it - Collateral Warranties can be a ‘Construction Contract’
The Court of Appeal handed down its judgment in the case of Abbey Healthcare (Mill Hill) Limited v Simply Construct (UK) LLP
Charles Russell Speechlys advises Caretech Holdings PLC on its proposed £870.3 million take private
Charles Russell Speechlys is advising the independent board of Caretech Holdings PLC, in its take private sale to Amalfi Bidco Limited.
Charles Russell Speechlys advising Battery Ventures on the sale of SPT Labtech for £650 million.
Battery Ventures has raised over $9 billion to invest in software and services, enterprise infrastructure, and much more around the world.
Windrush Day 2022 – supporting access to justice
Charles Russell Speechlys is proud to continue supporting survivors of the Windrush scandal in their fight for justice.
The Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Act 2022: Landlords and developers beware serious sanctions for non-compliance
The Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Act 2022 received Royal Assent on 8 February 2022 and will come into force on 30 June 2022.
EG quotes Emma Preece on the Picturehouse and BNY Mellon rent arrears cases
“The case is being closely watched by landlords and tenants alike as the impact of the pandemic lives on in the commercial property sector”
Charles Russell Speechlys has advised long-standing client Stonegate on a series A investment into Peckwater Brands
Stonegate is one of the largest pub companies in the UK with a rich portfolio that covers over 4,500 sites.
Pro bono support for major office premises move for charity in Stoke-on-Trent
Emmaus entities provide safe homes, community support and meaningful work to formerly homeless people across the UK.
Julia Cox and Felicity Chapman write for International Adviser on the rise of pre-nups in the UK
Julia Cox and Felicity Chapman write for International Adviser on the rise of pre-nups
Property Patter: Reasonable Endeavours
What does it mean to use ‘best’, ‘all’ or ‘reasonable’ endeavours?
Could the UK’s Life Sciences Vision be restricted by its Immigration Policy?
We explore some of the visa options that may be open to businesses in the sector and their relative pros and cons.
Joshua Green writes for Spear's Magazine on Wagatha Christie’s lessons for HNWs
Wagatha Christie’s lessons for HNWs
Stephanie Bonnello writes for the Practical Law Dispute Resolution blog on witness evidence
When are witness summaries permitted instead of witness statements and when should material be struck out from a witness statement?
Hannah Turner writes for the EG Legal Q&A on the validity of a section 21 notice
Q&A: Tackling technicalities and typos
Emma Humphreys and Paul McCarthy write for Property Week on the new landlord digital ID checks
Emma Humphreys and Paul McCarthy write for Property Week on new landlord digital ID checks