The Vegan Society has published a free guide for employers about how they can support vegans in the workplace after a tribunal confirmed it was a philosophy or belief that should be protected in law.
Last month, an employment tribunal confirmed that veganism is a protected belief under the Equality Act 2010 as part of a case between the League Against Cruel Sports and its former employee Jordi Casamitjana, who is claiming unfair dismissal. The case is ongoing.
The society’s new guide sets out considerations that employers can take to cater for vegans in the workplace, such as designating food storage areas for vegan employees, ensuring they have access to vegan-friendly clothing in any safety clothing or exempting them from a requirement to attend corporate events such as horseracing.
It says employers should also aim to foster a general attitude of respect towards vegan employees and ensure they are not the butt of burdensome jokes.
“One way of assessing whether a co-worker has gone too far with comments to or about vegans is to consider what type of conversational behaviour would be deemed offensive to other individuals with protected characteristics, such as those who adhere to certain religious values,” the guide suggests.
It says prompt action should be taken if an employer becomes aware that a vegan is being subjected to unfair treatment because of their beliefs.
“It is in your best interests to take action to deal with the problem immediately,” it says.
“Doing so will ensure that matters do not escalate, perpetrators are educated and/or disciplined, and that you continue to develop respect for vegans in the workplace.
“Prompt action will also evidence that you are serious about equality and diversity, and have a robust policy to deal with claims of unfair treatment in a timely manner.”