Protected under the Equality Act

An employment tribunal recently ruled that ethical veganism is now protected under the Equality Act in the same way as a religious belief.

So, what does that mean for you?

Think about any day to day comments and chat that may be happening in your business… “Why on earth are you eating that fake food, no wonder you look anorexic – you just don’t get the vitamins that you need from that rubbish”.

It is now possible that this is a comment that constitutes unlawful harassment under the Equality Act if it creates a “hostile, humiliating or offensive environment”.

And what about those businesses where “meat” is their trade?

If you have a vegan employee expressing their animal protection and anti-meat views in public, that you feel are detrimental to your business, it could be seen as discriminatory to discipline because this could be treating the individual less favourably and putting them at a disadvantage because of their vegan beliefs.

It is certainly another area to be mindful of and for our clients, we have updated our handbook policy to reflect this, which shall be available in your next general update.

Also, consider training on anti-harassment in the workplace to drive home the message of zero tolerance.

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