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In brief

An employment tribunal has held that a claimant’s belief in ethical veganism that extended to taking positive action to reduce or prevent the suffering of animals, which included criminal conduct such as trespassing on private property to expose and remove suffering animals, was not a protected philosophical belief under the Equality Act 2010 (Equality Act).

  • Ethical veganism, the belief that humans should not eat, wear, use for sport, experiment on or profit from animals, has previously been held by an employment tribunal in Casamitjana v The League Against Cruel Sports to be a protected philosophical belief under the Equality Act.
  • However, in this case, as the claimant’s ethical veganism belief extended to taking part in unlawful activities, including trespassing on private property to expose animal suffering and remove animals, the tribunal considered that her belief could not be worthy of respect in a democratic society and therefore was not protected. Had the claimant’s belief been limited to the belief in Casamitjana, it would have had no reservation in concluding that her belief was protected. The tribunal may have even reached the same conclusion had the claimant’s belief extended to taking positive, lawful action such as protests and demonstrations.
  • There has been an increase in employee activism in recent years on topical issues such as inclusion and diversity, geopolitical matters, fertility and ESG. The tribunal’s commentary that a belief will not be protected under the Equality Act if it extends to unlawful activity is welcome for employers.

For advice or to discuss what this means for you and your business, please contact your usual Baker McKenzie contact.


John Evason manages the employment team in London. He is a specialist employment lawyer advising on all aspects of employment law. He is ranked as a star individual in Chambers and a leading individual in Legal 500. He is a member and former chair of the Legislative and Policy Sub-Committee of the Employment Lawyers Association which provides comments to the UK government on new and amended legislation and regulations. He is a regular speaker at conferences and seminars, and frequently contributes to various legal and personnel publications.


Carl is a partner in the Employment Group at Baker McKenzie. He focuses on advising organisations on the employment aspects of financial transactions together with more general employment and litigation advice. Carl has been recommended in the Chambers legal directory as being “hailed for his rigour and interpersonal approach to assignments”, an ability to “build a rapport very quickly with clients." Carl is also recommended by Legal 500 and has been quoted as being “excellent across the board” “very thorough,” “strong on transactional matters," “staying on top of the issues” and is further quoted as being “thorough, patient and goes the extra mile.”


Mandy Li is a Knowledge Lawyer in Baker McKenzie London office.

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