Half of vegans feel discriminated against by employers

Half of vegans feel discriminated against by their employers, while nearly a third have felt harassed at work or unfairly treated due to their veganism, according to a new survey.

Researchers discovered that nearly half, 45 per cent, of 1,000 vegan employees questioned have felt discriminated against by employers, while nearly a third, 31 per cent, have felt harassed at work or unfairly treated due to their veganism, rising to 36 per cent amongst millennials.

The findings, commissioned by Crossland Employment Solicitors, found that 48 per cent of 1,000 employers surveyed admitted that they don’t do anything to accommodate vegans such as vegan food in the canteen or supplying toiletries free from animal testing.

The study found discrimination between how vegetarians and vegans are treated, with 78 per cent of employers saying they do cater for vegetarians’ dietary beliefs or requirements.

Amongst vegan employees, 96 per cent said they have to sit on leather furniture at work, 86 per cent are only given the choice to wash their hands in the office with soap that’s tested on animals, while six per cent are provided with a vegan uniform free from leather and wool.

Of those employers who do accommodate vegans, nearly a third, 32 per cent, said it’s costly or can be difficult to cater for vegans and 21 per cent said it’s risky in case they get it wrong.

Ninety-four per cent of bosses said it’s wrong for vegans to push their beliefs onto others in the office. Seventy-one per cent said they should just focus on their work, while 13 per cent said such behaviour can be distracting to other employees. Some vegans also said they had been specifically told not to discuss their beliefs with colleagues, or to tell customers.

Beverley Sunderland, managing director at Crossland Employment Solicitors, said: “Our research shows that prejudiced attitudes towards vegan workers are endemic among British employers and a lack of understanding as to the potential impact of the Equality Act 2010.

“Veganism is likely to be covered if a vegan has a genuinely held belief and not just an opinion or viewpoint. That belief must be ‘cogent, serious and applies to an important aspect of human life or behaviour and be worthy of respect in a democratic society and not affect other people’s fundamental rights.’

“For example, case law has already decided that belief in man-made climate change is a philosophical belief and there is little doubt that veganism will be considered also when it comes before the Tribunal later this year in the case Casamitjana v League Against Cruel Sports.

“We’d advise that employers need to be taking such beliefs seriously and acting against those who are derogatory about vegans. After all, if an employee was mocking someone’s religion, their sex or their race, an employer would not hesitate to take serious action.”

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