A judge in the UK has ruled that from a legal perspective, vegetarians cannot be victims of discrimination vis-à-vis the law. The complaint, which was rejected by the employment tribunal at the start of September, came from a waiter who reproached his colleagues for making fun of his being a vegetarian when he was working in a hotel in 2018. According to the complainant, the colleagues’ attitude constituted discrimination because his dietary regimen should be considered as a religion or philosophical belief and as such come under the protection of the Equality Act 2010. The presiding judge ruled that vegetarianism is a lifestyle choice and not a philosophical belief, because there were many reasons why people choose to become vegetarians (health, environment, climate, taste, animal welfare…). Nonetheless the judge clarified that his decision could be different in the case of veganism because there was “a clear cogency and cohesion in vegan belief.” This phrase has however caused a commotion among employers who now expect to have to field a torrent of complaints if dietary specificities and other characteristics end up being included in the Equality Act 2010. Indeed a complaint over vegan-related discrimination was lodged in December 2018 and has not yet been addressed.
Great Britain: vegetarianism does not come within the framework of discrimination at work legislation
Planet Labor, 19 September 2019, n°11363 - www.planetlabor.com