Securing protection from discrimination for Ethical Vegans
Securing protection from discrimination for Ethical Vegans
Latest: March 2, 2020
Litigation is over!
The ongoing Employment Tribunal case between Jordi Casamitjana and the League Against Cruel Sports has concluded with a settlement being agreed between the Parties. As part of that settlement, the Le…Read more
Who am I?
Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for 26 years, I am a vegan Zoologist specialised in animal behaviour, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for decades.
I am crowdfunding for a hearing at the Employment Tribunal to take place on 2 and 3 January 2020 to determine the sole question of whether Ethical Veganism is a protected philosophical belief under the UK’s Equality Act 2010. If successful, the case will secure the first judgment in Europe that Ethical Vegans are legally protected from discrimination because of our beliefs.
My new page
This page is a continuation of my previous crowdfunding page here. The reason for the new page is that my solicitor, Peter Daly, has moved firms from Bindmans LLP to Slater and Gordon. The rules of the crowdjustice website mean that once a campaign has been opened, it is assigned to a law firm and cannot be reassigned. For that reason I have had to start a fresh page which is assigned to Slater and Gordon.
Therefore, please note, that in addition of whatever amount I will managed to raise for my case on this webpage, we should add £8,710, which is what I raised with my previous page.
The litigation is part of a wider discrimination and whistleblowing claim I am bringing against one of my former employers (the League Against Cruel Sports), which arouse when I was dismissed in April 2018 after having blown the whistle about such employer’s pension fund being invested in companies that experiment on animals. The details of that (as far as I am able to share them, with litigation still going on) can be found on my previous CrowdJustice page.
But the hearing on 2 and 3 January 2020 is not contested by the League Against Cruel Sports, who have now formally conceded that Ethical Veganism is a protected philosophical belief under the Equality Act 2010.
What we want from the hearing is a clear and reasoned written judgment explaining why Ethical Veganism meets the legal tests for a protected philosophical belief. If we get this, it will mean that other ethical vegans – potentially in other countries too – will be able to refer to that judgment in situations where they feel discriminated against for being an ethical vegan – at work, and in the provision of goods and services – to show that the UK legal system has already considered and ruled on this question.
This is a complex task. Despite being uncontested, we still need to advance a strong and coherent case to convince the Tribunal. As can probably be appreciated, the recognition of a “new” protected philosophical belief is not something that a Tribunal will do lightly. Our case needs to be as comprehensive as possible. This means compiling over a thousand pages of evidence, and preparing statements for witnesses which explains and puts that documentary into context. Our witnesses include a vegan legal expert and an Oxford University professor of moral philosophy.
How much am I raising and why?
This work is legally complex and time-intensive, and because I feel the weight of responsibility that this important landmark case carries, this is why I have engaged an expert legal team (which implies a considerable cost in legal fees, estimated so far to £50,000 for the entire case, which is my fundraising target).
My solicitor, Peter Daly, and my barrister, Chris Milsom, are working very hard to get the result we want and I am very happy with their efforts. We are confident of success. But success is never guaranteed in any litigation, and there is still much to do.
You will be able to see the work that is going into the case: we have the permission of the Tribunal to publish online all of the material being used at the hearing, including our bundle of evidence, the witness statements, the pleadings in the case, and the legal submissions made by the barristers.
After the hearing in October, my discrimination and whistleblowing case will continue in February 2020, but what is important to notice is that if in October the Tribunal rules that veganism is indeed a protected philosophical belief, this ruling will stay regardless the outcome of my February hearings.
The case has already made headlines around the world. If we succeed, it will make many more, and it will give a fresh legal protection to hundreds of thousands of people in the UK. Please give me your support by donating to my case and by spreading this page as wide as possible.
Thank you very much!
What happens if the funds you raise on Crowdjustice exceed your legal costs for the October hearing?
In that scenario, we would apply the costs towards any remaining stages of the proceedings. This might include any appeals we bring if we are unsuccessful (or any appeals we need to defend if we are successful) or on the remainder of my discrimination and whistleblowing claim against the League Against Cruel Sports.
If, at the end of all of the litigation, there are still funds left over, these will be donated to another case on the Crowdjustice platform aimed to improve animal rights. If no such claim is being funded, the money will go to the Access to Justice Foundation, the charity used by Crowdjustice in situations where a case concludes with funding left over.
I will never personally get any money donated on this page, and it will only be used to pay lawyers for work they have done on my behalf.
Will the Judgment set a binding precedent?
Judgments in the Employment Tribunal are not binding authorities, but they are persuasive. What tends to happen is that when Tribunals have issued judgments which recognise philosophical beliefs, those judgments tend to have been followed by other courts and tribunals subsequently. This means that, if we are successful, it is very likely that ethical veganism will effectively be established in law as a protected philosophical belief. If there is an appeal brought in my case (either by us if we lose, or the League Against Cruel Sports if we win), this would be to the Employment Appeal Tribunal, which in this case is a court of binding precedent.
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March 2, 2020
Litigation is over!
The ongoing Employment Tribunal case between Jordi Casamitjana and the League Against Cruel Sports has concluded with a settlement being agreed between the Parties. As part of that settlement, the League Against Cruel Sports has conceded that Mr Casamitjana was a valued employee who demonstrated professionalism, expertise and commitment to the protection of animals. The League Against Cruel Sports has conceded that Mr Casamitjana did nothing wrong in raising his concerns about the League’s pension fund, for which he was dismissed.
The settlement brings to a conclusion a case that attracted international coverage when ethical veganism was recognised as a protected philosophical belief under the Equality Act 2010, and ethical vegans so protected from discrimination.
Jordi Casamitjana said:
“After nearly two years of litigation against the League Against Cruel Sports, I am extremely happy with the conclusion that we have secured. The case has established that ethical vegans are protected from discrimination, and I have received the acknowledgement I sought that my dismissal was based on my ethical veganism, and was not justified or justifiable.
In its evidence to the Tribunal, the League’s witnesses conceded that the concerns I raised - about the League’s pension fund investing in companies that test on animals and damage the environment - were genuine and correct. They acknowledged that my communications on this issue were motivated by my ethical veganism which expressed itself in three desires: firstly, not have to invest my own pension in unethical funds, secondly that I didn’t want my colleagues to do so without their knowledge and explicit consent, and thirdly to protect the League from the reputational and regulatory risk of making investments in companies that tested on animals.
The League conceded that the decision to discipline me arose from those concerns and communications, and that the decision to dismiss me was because of the strength of my ethical beliefs. They also explained how, after I was sacked by the League, the concerns I raised resulted in them changing in 2019 their pension arrangements so that the League’s current default pension fund for auto-enrolling is finally "ethical".
I worked for the League for several years over two separate spells of employment, and I know that it is staffed and supported by people with strong ethical principles to protect animals, the environment and society. I am hopeful that the events of the past few years will prompt the League to learn from its mistakes and enable it to reclaim its position as one of the most important animal welfare charities in the UK.
I would like to thank all of those that supported me, including current and former members of the League, everyone who supported my Crowdjustice campaign, the Vegan Society and my lawyers Peter Daly of Slater and Gordon and Chris Milsom of Cloisters Chambers. This has been a great victory for all ethical vegans and animal protection, and I could not have done it without that support.”
Mr Casamitjana’s solicitor, Slater and Gordon Principal Employment Lawyer Peter Daly said:
“It has been a privilege to act for the first ethical vegan claiming discrimination protection in the UK. The success that we have had is testament to Jordi Casamitjana’s courage, determination and indelible ethical principles. He has established a set of protections that will not only benefit ethical vegans, but because of the benefits of ethical veganism to our environment and society, will benefit us all.”
Mr Casamitjana’s barrister, Chris Milsom of Cloisters Chambers said:
“As the Respondent recognised in evidence, Jordi Castamatjana is a "thoroughly decent guy" whose actions were "well-intentioned and based on ethical principles." I am delighted therefore to collaborate with Jordi and Peter of Slater and Gordon to achieve this great outcome. There are many lessons to be learned here both for the League and more widely to ensure that those guided by protected beliefs are accommodated and valued in the workplace.”
Feb. 20, 2020
The full-merits hearings begins Monday 24th February 2020 at Watford Employment
From the 24th of February to the 6 of March the full-merits hearing of my case will take place, this time at Watford Employment Tribunal. This is where the judges will assess if I have been unlawfully treated by my former employer due to the protected disclosures I made (my whistle-blowing) and/or the fact I am an ethical vegan. As in January a judge in my pre-hearing ruled that ethical veganism is a protected philosophical belief under the Equality Act 2010, this allowed the discrimination aspect of my case to be assessed in the full-merits hearing.
After the 10 days hearing we will have to wait for several weeks to know the judge’s verdict.
Thank you very much for all your support for my crowfunding, which is still active as I haven’t reached my final target yet.
Jan. 28, 2020
Ethical Veganism as a Protected Philosophical Belief: Full Reasons now published
The Employment Tribunal has now released the full written reasons for its judgment that Ethical Veganism is a protected philosophical belief. While the underlying finding was made at the public hearing on 3 January 2020, the full written reasons go further in explaining the extent of the protections that ethical vegans are now afforded.
- That the definition of the protected belief is based on the Vegan Society definition (Judgment paragraph 13). This gives a wide protection and makes clear that it is not only a limited subset of ethical vegans that are protected.
- That a person may be protected even if they incidentally transgress from an ethical vegan lifestyle (Judgment paragraph 34). This means that someone who is unable to avoid a non-vegan product may still be protected, as long as they hold the protected belief and do their best in trying to avoid all products and practices which involve animal exploitation.
- That the protected belief is one that “promotes” the benefits of ethical veganism. This means that acts which encourage others to follow a vegan lifestyle are a core aspect of the belief and are protected, rather than simply being a non-protected manifestation of the belief.
I am particularly pleased with the words the judge used in the final conclusion of his written judgment. In particular that ‘overwhelming evidence’ made his decision ‘easy’, as this confirms that all the effort I made in attempting to prove that ethical veganism deserves legal protection was worthwhile. I am also extremely pleased that the judgment states that ‘ethical veganism does not in any way offend society’ and that ‘it's clearly not simply a viewpoint, but a real and genuine belief'.
I hope that in the next few days the full written judgement will be downloadable from the Slater & Gordon webpage about my case (https://www.slatergordon.co.uk/media-centre/blog/2019/12/ethical-veganism/).
I really want to thank all of the people who have supported me so far via my crowdjustice.com website, as well as the Vegan Society, without whom this would not have been possible. Together we have achieved something important and remarkable.
My case continues the 24th of February to establish if I was dismissed because of my beliefs and because I blew the whistle on what I believed was serious wrongdoing.
Jan. 9, 2020
I helped many of you, so please now help me
Now the judge has ruled that ethical veganism is a protected non-religious philosophical belief I need your help to raise all the funds I need to pay the legal fees of my legal team for this and future stages of my broader employment dispute. The next hearing begins in the 24th February, and will last 10 days. Now that I managed to help many ethical vegans to be better protected I hope I will be helped as well to win the rest of my case so I can finally resume my long career in animal protection which was so abruptly stopped more than 20 months ago. Please help me to reach my target by convincing your family members, friends and also vegan organisations you may know to support me in the rest of my case.
Thank you very much for all your support so far and for all the kind messages I have received congratulating me for what we all collectively achieved last Friday, which may have.great positive repercussions all around the world.
Jan. 3, 2020
We won the pre-hearing and ethical veganism is now a protected belief!
As you may have seen in the news, we won today's hearing: Ethical Veganism is a protected philosophical belief. The case we prepared was so thorough and comprehensive that none of the witnesses (including me) were asked any questions by the judge. Even my barrister’s submissions were received without challenge or query, following which the judge took what he called the “unusual step” of delivering his judgment in the hearing rather than waiting for written reasons. In doing so, he said that he was “satisfied overwhelmingly that [ethical veganism] constitutes a philosophical belief and is a new protected characteristic.” The whole hearing, although listed to take a day, was over in little more than an hour.
But this is not the end. Now that I have established that my ethical veganism is a protected characteristic, I need now to prove that my dismissal was unlawful. The hearing for this is listed to start on 20 February 2020. This will be a longer, more difficult and more strongly-contested hearing and I need your support for it.
I am hugely grateful for all the support I have received, and together we have achieved something truly remarkable. Ethical veganism, in the words of the Judge, is a “new protected characteristic”. But my journey on this case is not yet over, and I need your help to see it through
Jan. 2, 2020
Pre-hearing on the veganism question began today
My pre-hearing to determine if ethical veganism is a protected "non-religious philosophical belief" (as already is environmentalism, pacifism or teetotalism) began today at Norwich Employment Tribunal, in Norfolk. However, neither party had to go there today yet as the entire day was for the judge to read the more of 1,000 pages of evidence that my legal team and I are presenting (I will leave a link in the comments where you can download the evidence), so the hearing is not public. Tomorrow, the second day of this two-day pre-hearing, from 10 AM till possibly 4 PM, is the day both parties will attend, and this time it will be a public hearing where the witnesses, including I, will give testimony. Then we will have to wait a few days (or weeks) for the judge producing a written sentence.
Thanks you for your continuous support.
Dec. 22, 2019
Evidence made public for the pre-hearing at Norwich ET the 2-3 January
The hearing to determine whether ethical veganism is a protected philosophical belief under the Equality Act 2010 will take place on 2-3 January 2020 in Norwich. In accordance with the Tribunal’s direction, my solicitors have now made public the written evidence that will be considered. It can be downloaded in the following page of my solicitors' website: https://www.slatergordon.co.uk/media-centre/blog/2019/12/ethical-veganism/
The documents include my statement and the written statements of other witnesses for this hearing, the 1,000+ page bundle with many documents I will be using to support my case, and my barrister’s written submissions.
This only contains the evidence for this pre-hearing, not for the full merits hearing which will be dealing with the lawfulness of how my employer treated me. However, it does include both sides’ written pleadings (my Particulars of Claim, and the Respondent’s Grounds of Response) which sets out the positions both sides have taken on that dispute.
Therefore, it may help you to answer many questions you may have wondered regarding my case, and may help to clear up much of the speculation about it that has been circulating.
Thank you for everyone that has been donating to my crowdfunding (some of you several times!), but I still a long way to reach my extended target, so please keep spreading my crowdjustice page and keep supporting me.
Please remember that if you are planning to attend to the hearing in January (there may be very limited room) , we expect that only January 3rd will be worth attending and that the 2nd will be allocated reading time, in which the Judge will read the now-published material in private.
Thank you very much.
Nov. 8, 2019
Pre-hearing in January
We have now a new date for the postponed pre-hearing to determine if ethical veganism is a protected belief under the Equality Act 2010. It will be the 2nd and 3rd of January 2020 (although only the 3rd will be a public hearing). We asked the tribunal if we could do it sooner but we haven't got any reply, so this day will have to do. We don't know yet if this new day will lead us to postpone the "full merits hearing" as well, when my case should continue to determine if I was unfairly dismissed due to discrimination and/or whistle-blowing, currently set up for 24th February-6th March 2020, as this will very much depend on how quickly the judge can give a verdict regarding the pre-hearing issues.I haven't reached yet my final target for my crowdfunding for my legal fees, so please keep sharing this page as wide as possible encouraging people to donate.
Thanks again for your continuous support.
Oct. 14, 2019
We have today received notice from the Tribunal that the hearing set to go ahead this week (17-18 October 2019) has been postponed because of a lack of judges. We are in the process of trying to lift the postponement or fix another date as soon as possible. This is obviously hugely disappointing and frustrating. As soon as I have more information I will share this with you.
Oct. 3, 2019
Pre-hearing on veganism just in a couple of weeks time
The pre-hearing at the Norwich Employment Tribunal to determine whether ethical veganism is a protected philosophical belief under the Equality Act 2010 is just in a couple of weeks time (17th-18th October 2019, but only the 18th is a public hearing), and so far everything seems on track.
Also, the Vegan Life Magazine has published a feature article about me, which may be useful to those that may be thinking in donating to my case but have not decided yet: https://www.veganlifemag.com/who-is-jordi-casamitjana/ . By reading it, you will be able to know more about who I am.
If you have already donated it may be useful you sent this article, together with this crowdjustice page, to anyone you think may also want to contribute.
Thanks for all your help.
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