As much as this employment tribunal decision is attention-grabbing, it is hardly of much surprise. Such is the proliferation of vegan diets as well as vegan beliefs, it was only a matter of time before the issue went before the courts.
The tribunal determined that veganism could be characterised as a "religion or belief", which is one of the nine protected characteristics prescribed by the Equality Act 2010. The other protected characteristics are age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, sex and sexual orientation. The significance stems from the fact that it is unlawful to discriminate against someone on the basis of a protected characteristic (although discrimination may be allowed for certain protected characteristics in specific circumstances).
However, being an employment tribunal decision, it is not a binding authority. This means that in other cases, a judge may decide otherwise. Nevertheless, it is likely to be only a matter of time before the issue comes up before the Court of Appeal, when a binding determination can be made.
Should you have any issues relating to discrimination, please contact our Employment team who will be happy to assist.
The judge Robin Postle ruled that ethical veganism qualifies as a philosophical belief under the Equality Act 2010 by satisfying several tests - including that it is worthy of respect in a democratic society, not incompatible with human dignity and not conflicting with the fundamental rights of others.