This month, United Kingdom-based nonprofit The Vegan Society released a guidebook to help employers incorporate policies that do not directly or indirectly discriminate against vegan employees. Generally, the Supporting Veganism in the Workplace guide booklet urges employers to educate themselves about the fundamental elements of veganism; make considerations for vegan employees in the workplace; train staff to be more knowledgeable about veganism; and take prompt action against workplace distrimination. More specifically, the guide urges employers to ensure kitchen facilities are adequate and equipped with separate storage areas for plant-based foods; that vegans have access to animal-free clothing (such as safety boots); send out dietary requirements sheets for catered events to ensure appropriate food options; exempt vegans from attending corporate events that do not comply with their beliefs such as horse-racing; consider exempting vegans from signing off on non-vegan purchases; and support vegans in their choices to invest in pension options that do not support animal cruelty.
The Vegan Society’s guide was created in response to the UK employment tribunal recognizing veganism as a legally protected philosophical belief. In 2018, Jordi Casamitjana, an ethical vegan, brought a claim against his former employer, the League Against Cruel Sports, wherein he asserted that he was unfairly dismissed for disclosing to other employees that the league invested its pension funds in firms involved in animal testing and failing to follow management’s rule to not provide financial advice to his colleagues. In January, the UK employment tribunal preliminary ruled in favor of Casamitjana’s claim, recognizing veganism as a protected belief under The Equality Act of 2010. “There was never any doubt in my mind that the convictions of vegans come within the scope of legal protection,” Jeanette Rowley, PhD, Legal Expert at The Vegan Society, said. “The strength of this decision is of great significance for vegans and those transitioning to a vegan lifestyle, as well as their employers.” The Vegan Society also made itself available to employers to help them transition to a more equitable workplace for vegans. The full tribunal hearing is scheduled for February 24.