1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to sidebar

Food for thought: Employment Tribunal to consider whether ethical veganism is protected under discrimination legislation

In March 2019, an Employment Tribunal will decide for the first time whether ethical veganism is a “philosophical belief” under one of the nine protected characteristics covered by the Equality Act 2010, namely “religion or belief”. If the Employment Tribunal decides that it is, then it would still likely be subject to appeal. So it would unlikely finally determine issue.

It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate directly, by treating an employee less favourably than others because of their religion or belief.

Case law has set out a series of tests to determine whether a philosophical belief falls within the scope of the protected characteristic, “religion or belief”.

If the Tribunal decides that ethical veganism is a protected characteristic, then the discrimination claim will proceed to a full hearing.

Jordi Casamitjana claims he was dismissed from his role as head of policy and research at the League Against Cruel Sports after raising concerns to his manager and other employees that it was investing pension funds in companies that tested on animals. He alleges that as a result of his disclosures he was unfairly disciplined and subsequently dismissed. Mr Casamitjana claims that the reason for his dismissal was due to his philosophical belief in ethical veganism.  The League Against Cruel Sports says he was dismissed for gross misconduct and denies that he was dismissed because of his veganism.

If the Tribunal finds ethical veganism to be a protected characteristic, subject to the first instance decision not being overturned on appeal, it will ensure ethical vegans are protected against discrimination (direct and indirect), harassment and victimisation.

Practically speaking, if vegans are given protected status then employers will need to understand more about what veganism means in practice and consider any particular needs vegans may have in the workplace.

Food for thought: Employment Tribunal to consider whether ethical veganism is protected under discrimination legislation

Employment Tribunal not bound by list of issues that miscategorises claim

In the recent case of Saha v Capita plc the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) held that an Employment Tribunal (ET) is not compelled to rely on a list of issues that wrongly categorises the claim to be heard.

The Claimant was employed as an assistant management accountant. In an email she alleged that the Respondent subjected her to a detriment by asking her to work the year-end hours proposed as they were:

  • detrimental to her health and safety; and
  • in breach of the Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR).

Following the email, the Claimant received an offer to terminate her employment in return for a payment of £10,000. She then lodged a claim with the ET pleading both of the above matters as protected disclosures.

An agreed list of issues was prepared at the outset of the hearing but categorised the WTR allegation as a working time detriment claim rather than detriment on the ground of making a protected disclosure. The EAT held that the ET failed to consider the substance of the claim.

The EAT relied on the Court of Appeal case of Parekh v London Borough of Brent [2012] which made clear that an ET is not bound by the list of issues agreed and the core duty of the court is to hear and determine the case in accordance with the law and evidence. The claim was remitted to the same ET to decide whether the email contained a protected disclosure of a likely breach of the WTR.

This decision is a reminder that an agreed list of issues is not set in stone. If a list of issues is wrongly categorised then it is the duty of the ET to determine the case in accordance with the law and evidence.

Employment Tribunal not bound by list of issues that miscategorises claim

Does an employee waive an employer’s repudiatory breach by resigning on notice and continuing to work?

What happens if the employee asserts that he or she has been constructively dismissed but resigns on notice and continues to work? The High Court in Brown and others v Neon Management Services Ltd and another [2018] EWHC 2137 held that working a lengthy period of notice after resigning in response to a repudiatory breach can amount to a waiver of the breach and affirmation of the contract, such that the employee will not be released from his or her restrictive covenants.
Read more »
Does an employee waive an employer’s repudiatory breach by resigning on notice and continuing to work?