The Vegan Society has created a booklet which set out guidelines for employers after a recent court ruling confirmed vegans in the workplace are protected by law.
In January this year, a case brought by Jordi Casamitjana ruled that ethical veganism qualifies as a philosophical belief for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010.
Mr. Casamitjana claims he was sacked by the League Against Cruel Sports because of his ethical veganism. His former employer says he was dismissed for gross misconduct.
The judge ruled that ethical vegans should be entitled to similar legal protections in British workplaces as those who hold religious beliefs.
According to The Vegan Society, the ruling will have “a far-reaching impact on employers” and they will need to “adapt their workplace policies, practices, and environment to accommodate ethical vegans”.
Suggestions in the new booklet entitled “Supporting veganism in the workplace: A guide for employers” include offering non-leather safety footwear alternatives for vegan employees.
Also with regard to meals, the employer should offer vegan options for employees. It advises companies to offer separate storage areas for vegan and non-vegan workers.
There should be exemptions allowed for vegans from corporate events such as horse racing or where team-building gatherings revolve specifically around animal products such as a ‘hog roast’.
And when it comes to finances, it suggests vegans should be supported to discuss their pension investment options with a relevant member of staff.
Staff should also be trained about veganism and companies should examine their existing policies and practices in light of this, it adds.
As for the work environment, it warns that jokes or comments made in the vicinity of vegans that have the potential to offend could constitute unlawful harassment.
Mr Casamitjana’s case centered on his claim that he was sacked by the charity, the League Against Cruel Sports after alerting his bosses to the fact that it invested pension funds in firms involved in animal testing.
He says that when he drew their attention to the investments they did nothing so he told his colleagues and he was sacked.
However, the League Against Cruel Sports said that it was “factually wrong” to link Mr. Casamitjana’s dismissal to his veganism.
The charity did not contest that ethical veganism should be protected.
The Equality Act 2010 prohibits discrimination on several grounds called protected characteristics. Under the Equality Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against someone because of age, disability, gender, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity, race, sex and sexual orientation, religion or belief.
The Vegan Society’s spokesperson, Matt Turner, said: “This ruling and the protection it confirms for ethical vegans are long overdue.
“The Vegan Society is happy to support any company that wants to take steps to improve life in the workplace for the hundreds of thousands of vegans in the UK.”