Should veganism be protected by the Equality Act 2010?

January 2, 2020


On 2 January 2020, an Employment Tribunal will hear the case of an employee who claims that he was unfairly dismissed because of his “ethical” vegan beliefs.

He claims that he was dismissed because he disclosed that his employer was investing pension funds in firms involved in animal testing, contrary to his strongly held beliefs regarding animal rights. However, his previous employer states that he was dismissed for gross misconduct.

At this initial hearing, the Tribunal will only be making a decision on whether the case will be taken forward. In order to proceed to a final hearing, it will need to be proven that the employee’s beliefs about veganism meet the strict criteria for protection of “philosophical beliefs” under the Equality Act 2010 and that they are not simply a lifestyle choice and/or a strong opinion.

Whilst an employee might describe themselves as a vegan, it will not always be clear as to whether he or she is  a “dietary vegan” (someone who eats a plant based diet for health reasons) or an “ethical vegan” (a person who eats a plant based diet because of their philosophical belief about protecting animals and the environment). The protection from discrimination under the Equality Act would only cover those who hold very strong philosophical beliefs which are sufficiently “weighty and substantial”, can be expressed coherently and are considered “worthy of respect in a democratic society”. Not all views and opinions on veganism will meet this threshold so this case will not lead to a blanket protection against discrimination for vegans.

In order to reduce the risk of legal action, employers should consider the following when dealing with employee beliefs in the workplace:

  1. Lead by example and create a positive environment for discussing religious and/or philosophical beliefs, reiterating that it is important to be respectful of the beliefs of others. 

  2. Train your staff on your standards of behaviour in relation to tolerating different beliefs and what action may be taken if staff behaviour does not meet these standards.

  3. Make sure that you have a written Equal Opportunities Policy in place setting out your position on discouraging discriminatory attitudes and behaviours, plus ensuring that your staff feel confident about equality of opportunity in the workplace.  



Contact Our Team
Catherine Burke
View Profile
Damian Phillips
View Profile
Fflur Jones
Managing Partner
View Profile
Gareth Wedge
View Profile
Mark Rostron
View Profile
Nick O’Sullivan
View Profile
Owen John
View Profile
Rhodri Lewis
View Profile
Stephen Thompson
View Profile

I have worked with Darwin Gray for a number of years and the level of service, professionalism and timely response is second to none. I would highly recommend Darwin Gray to any business.”

Becs Beslee
Dice FM Ltd

Darwin Gray have provided us with a first-class service for many years now. They really take the time to understand our business and develop relationships which results in advice and support that is contextualised and effective.”

Rebecca Cooper
ACT Training

We have worked with Darwin Gray for several years and have always found their services and advice to be first class.”

Karen Gale
Stepping Stones Group

An extremely professional and sincere company who make time for your queries and understand the need to break down certain facts and information to ensure everything is understood perfectly. I would highly recommend the company to anyone looking for any type of legal advice”

Gwawr Booth
Portal Training Ltd

PSS has worked with Darwin Gray for many years. We have always received an excellent service. Prompt and professional advice and support.”

Ledia Shabani
Property Support Services UK Ltd

We have used several departments within DG recently and we have been very pleased with an effective, efficient and down to earth service. Very happy thus far and I expect that we will continue to use DG.”

Guto Bebb
Farmers’ Union of Wales

Darwin Gray offer us truly superb services. Very professional, quick and services available bilingually which is very important to us, highly recommend.”

Iwan Hywel
Mentrau Iaith Cymru

My “go to” in urgent and time sensitive cases for direction, support and advice. The team are quick to respond to calls or emails for advice and support on all matters. Always explain complex matters in a way a lay person can easily understand.”

Margot Adams
Guarding UK Ltd