September 30, 2019
No, held the Employment Tribunal.
In Conisbee v Crossley Farms Ltd, the Employment Tribunal held that vegetarianism does not amount to a philosophical belief and is not capable of protection under the Equality Act 2010.
Mr Conisbee, a vegetarian, had been employed for 5 months before resigning. He claimed that he had been discriminated against on the ground of religion or belief, his belief being vegetarianism, and that this discrimination was the cause of his resignation.
The Tribunal held that vegetarianism is about lifestyle choice and did not meet the legal hurdles for protection under the Equality Act 2010.
The Employment Tribunal’s decision considered that it did not attain the level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance nor did it relate to a weighty and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour.
It is worth noting that as this is a first instance decision, it is not binding on other tribunals but allows some understanding of how future claims may be dealt with. The decision also hinted that veganism, about which a case is due to be heard later this year, may be a protected belief.