An employment tribunal has held that ethical veganism should be protected under discrimination law. The ruling may have significant implications for employers.

In Casamitjana v League Against Cruel Sports, Mr Casamitjana was employed by the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) as a zoologist, specialising in animal behaviour. LACS holds itself out as a vegan-friendly employer. Mr Casamitjana's found that pension funds were invested in pharmaceutical and tobacco companies that used animal testing. He informed his managers but felt that no action was taken, so then proceeded to inform other employees. As a result he was disciplined and then dismissed.

Mr Casamitjana claims he was discriminated against due to his strong ethical vegan beliefs. LACS is defending the claim on the basis that Mr Casamitjana was dismissed for gross misconduct not related to his vegan beliefs, as he failed to follow a reasonable instruction.

What does this mean for employers?

While not binding on other courts, the judgment sets out the likely approach of other courts and tribunals to ethical veganism.

The decision means that employers must make sure they do not discriminate against employees for applying ethical vegan principles to all aspects of their working life.

Not all vegans or vegetarians will be protected under the Equality Act, however. A previous tribunal decision (Conisbee v Crossley Farms) found that vegetarianism was not protected in that instance and the Casamitjana case does not appear to cover those who simply follow a vegan diet.

  • Michael Delaney is a partner at award-winning law firm VWV, which has offices in Clarendon Road, Watford