News & Views

Salad as a rock? – vegetarianism as a protected religion or belief

SOC
BY Scott O'Connor
Employment law

You herb it here first folks; a new decision from the Employment Tribunal suggests vegetarianism is not a protected belief under the Equality Act 2010. Conisbee v Crossley Farms Ltd and others concerned Mr Conisbee, a waiter/barman who resigned from his position at a farm restaurant after an altercation over his un-ironed shirt in front of the customers.

Mr Conisbee did not have the two years required to raise a claim of unfair dismissal in the Employment Tribunal. However, he did raise a harassment complaint on the grounds of religion and belief for his belief in vegetarianism. The Employment Tribunal accepted that while Mr Conisbee was a vegetarian and he had a genuine belief in his vegetarianism, it was “not enough to have an opinion based on some real, or perceived, logic” to qualify for a religion and belief discrimination claim. Vegetarianism did not meet the requirements for protection under the Equality Act 2010 or the established tests in Grainger Plc v Nicholson UKEAT/0219/09. The tribunal found vegetarianism did not concern a weighty and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour as it is a lifestyle choice. It also found vegetarianism did not attain a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance as the reasons for being a vegetarian can vary between people. Interestingly, on this point the tribunal contrasted veganism, saying “the reason for being a vegetarian differs greatly among themselves, unlike veganism where the reasons for being a vegan appear to be largely the same” and that there was therefore a clear cogency and cohesion in vegan belief.

It should be noted that this decision is not binding on other tribunals but it does offer an example of how the Employment Tribunal are approaching religion or belief claims based on vegetarianism and veganism. We may be seeing more claims in the future of this nature as the world moves towards a more plant-based lifestyle and diet.

Discrimination claims can seem a complicated maze to navigate but if you need advice on possible discrimination issues, do not hesitate to get in touch with your dedicated Employment Solicitor.

About us

As trusted experts in employment law, HR and health & safety, we offer a range of flexible employee relations services under one roof. By delivering top quality, all-inclusive fixed-fee advice, we enable employers to take quick, confident and decisive action.
 

Read more

Areas of Expertise

Employment Law

Find out more

HR Consultancy

Find out more 

Health & Safety

Find out more