The recent Employment Tribunal case of Mr Jordi Casamitjana, which caused quite a stir in the media, focused on the Tribunal’s decision that ethical veganism was eligible to qualify as a “protected characteristic” under the Equalities Act 2010. In that case, Mr Casamitjana was dismissed on the grounds of gross misconduct by his employer, the League Against Cruel Sports, where he was a policy adviser. More details on the case can be found in my colleague David Whincup’s blog.
A little reported feature of the case was that the straw that broke the camel’s back (as it were) for the employee was that when he rejoined his company’s employment, after a break of several years working on other causes, he was automatically enrolled in a defined contribution pension arrangement where the default fund, among other things, invested in companies which engaged in animal testing, contrary to his philosophical beliefs. Mr Casamitjana chose to invest his contributions in an alternative ethical fund but believed that his colleagues were unaware of the default fund’s investments. He decided to take matters into his own hands and publicised his views to his fellow workers to encourage them to switch to one of the ethical funds offered. The employer concluded that he had failed to follow an instruction not to provide what could be construed as financial advice to his colleagues and he was dismissed. He subsequently challenged the grounds for his dismissal and the outcome of that part of the Employment Tribunal’s deliberations is still awaited. Continue Reading