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Veganism: Court rules lifestyle choice is same as philosophical belief

It is illegal to fire someone for being vegan as it is a philosophical belief, an employment tribunal in Norwich has ruled.

The decision was made after a worker said he was fired for raising concerns that his employer’s pension fund was being invested in companies involved in animal testing.

Jordi Casamitjana, 55, was a researcher at the League Against Cruel Sports, a charity that claims he was in fact sacked for “gross misconduct”.

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Mr Casamitjana says he was unfairly disciplined for disclosing his concerns, and claims the decision to dismiss him was due to his ethical veganism.

Judge Robin Postle gave a short summary judgement at the tribunal on Friday, ruling that ethical veganism satisfies the tests required for it to be a philosophical belief and is therefore protected under the 2010 Equality Act. His ruling on Mr Casamitjana is expected at a later date. 

Ethical vegans, as opposed to dietary vegans, try to avoid all forms of animal exploitation in the products they buy, as well as in their diets. They do not buy clothes made of wool or leather, or use products tested on animals.

The landmark decision means ethical vegans are entitled to protection from discrimination.

In order for a belief to be protected under the act, it must pass a series of tests including being worthy of respect in a democratic society, not incompatible with human dignity and not conflicting with fundamental rights of others.

In the hearing on Thursday, the court heard Mr Casamitjana was dismissed after he gave colleagues details of the charity’s pension funds, which revealed that some invested in companies involved in animal testing.

He claimed he was whistleblowing, but the charity said this had “no substance” and had “absolutely no connection with why Mr Casamitjana was sacked”.

It added the reason for his dismissal was confidential but said it was sad that a former employee was taking action against one of the UK’s most vegan-friendly employers.

Mr Casamitjana said: “Although the manner in which I was dismissed was intensely distressing for me, some good may come of it if I am able to establish this valuable protection for all ethical vegans.”

Additional reporting by agencies

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