It is January 2020. Record number of people are taking part in Dry January and Veganuary.
Meanwhile, in the Norwich Employment Tribunal on 3rd January 2020, in a landmark case, the Judge held that ethical veganism is a philosophical belief. An ethical vegan is someone who not only follows a vegan diet but extends the philosophy into other areas of their lives and opposes the use of animals for any purpose.
The case was brought by vegan, Jordi Casamitjana, who claimed that he was dismissed because of his ethical veganism. The Employment Tribunal found that ethical veganism is a philosophical belief that is protected by law against discrimination. The Employment Judge said, in his ruling, that ethical veganism was "important" and "worthy" of respect in a democratic society.
The Employment Tribunal has not made a ruling as to whether Mr Casamitjana was unfairly dismissed; that will be decided at a later date.
Though a ruling from an employment tribunal does not amount to binding legal precedent, this one will have important and far-reaching effects.
Employers will have to respect ethical veganism and make sure they do not discriminate against employees for such beliefs. We are still waiting for the written decision and there is still a possibility that the outcome will be appealed.
What should employers do? The law hasn’t really changed and behaviour in the workplace needs to be in line with a wider dignity at work policy. Employers need to encourage fair and dignified behaviour amongst colleagues.