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A Fad or a Protected Characteristic?

A Fad or a Protected Characteristic?

So, it’s January and back to the daily routine.

Many of us, in time-honoured fashion, will be thinking about how we can be healthier and fitter in 2019 after the excesses of the festive season, and some of us may be taking part in Veganuary to help us kick start this new healthy way of life.   

Of those who try it, many will declare it not for them come February, but with veganism estimated to have had a 360% rise in the UK during the past decade, we have to consider whether many more people will become vegans in the future and this adds weight to the question of whether veganism should have a protected status in the workplace.

Ethical Veganism

You may have heard that in March 2019 a case will be heard at Employment Tribunal which will consider whether ‘ethical veganism’ is a lifestyle choice or a protected philosophical belief.  If it is decided to be the latter, then we will potentially be facing a workplace where veganism becomes a protected characteristic.  

Tests to decide the difference between whether your employee is an ethical vegan – holding a belief that guides their way they live their life, or the kind of fashionable vegan just trying Veganuary, are yet to be decided, but if veganism were to become a protected characteristic what adjustments may need to be made in the workplace?

Apart from the obvious requirement to respect vegans for their ethical choice on a day to day basis, employers will perhaps need to consider choice of food  in the staff canteen, material used in compulsory uniforms, whether hand-soap in the toilets is suitable for vegans and, in light of more recent publicity about the inclusion of gelatine in our newer currency notes, whether vegans can handle cash?

Further Update in March

Mr Casamitjana’s employment tribunal hearing against the League of Cruel Sports is scheduled for 13-14 March 2019, and we will all watch with interest – vegan friendly snacks in hand… 

If you have concerns about possible discrimination in the workplace, or queries about protected characteristics, give us a call on 0203 319 1649. 

As 1 Apr, we cannot find an Employment Tribunal decision on the case that was due to be heard on 13-14th March 2019. We’ll continue to keep an eye out…