Reports on the BBC today discuss a tribunal case regarding whether veganism is a ‘philosophical belief’. The case referred to is looking into the dismissal of Jordi Casamitjana by the League Against Cruel Sports earlier this year.

 A League spokesperson said:

 “As an animal welfare organisation our mission is to protect animals abused and killed because of cruel sports, so naturally we have a large proportion of vegans and vegetarians working for us, and have done for many years. The discussion about veganism being a ‘philosophical belief’ is a thought-provoking one which many of our staff will be interested in – however this debate has absolutely no connection with why Mr Casamitjana was sacked.

"It’s sad that one of our former employees, who is passionate about protecting animals, is now trying to bring into disrepute a charity which is not only one of the most important pro-animal voices in this country, but also no doubt one of the most vegan friendly employers. 

“Mr Casamitjana was dismissed from his position because of gross misconduct, and to link his dismissal with issues pertaining to veganism is factually wrong. Mr Casamitjana is seeking to use his veganism as the reason for his dismissal and bring an employment tribunal against the organisation. We emphatically reject this claim.”

Rhys Wyborn, Partner, Geldards LLP who are representing the League at the tribunal, said:

 “The Claimant in this case was dismissed for gross misconduct and for failing to follow express management instructions that were given to him.  After due process, the Claimant was fairly dismissed for his actions. This had nothing to do with his beliefs, protected or otherwise.  In view of the lack of service to bring an ordinary unfair dismissal claim, the Claimant is making a desperate attempt to link his fair dismissal to his stated belief in “ethical veganism”, which the League Against Cruel Sports categorically refutes.” 

Pension fund

 Mr Casamitjana claims he was dismissed for ‘disclosing that the League invested pension funds in animal testing’. 

The League said:

 “Mr Casamitjana was not dismissed because he raised concerns about the pension, either internally or externally, so there is no substance to his claims that he was ‘whistleblowing’. 

“Staff at the League have always had the choice of joining an ethical pension scheme, but in 2015 the guidelines around pensions changed so we weren’t legally able to offer this scheme as an automatic enrolment, as would have been the case with other small employers. Again though, staff have always had the opportunity to join whichever pension scheme they wanted. 

“Since the arrival of our new CEO earlier this year, our independent financial advisors have been working hard to ensure we have an ethical fund which complies with Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulations, which we have achieved. Whilst staff have always had the option to use this fund, it now means that new staff can automatically join it. We’ve had to balance our ethical values alongside legal requirements. 

“All staff were informed about the pension situation and the processes in place to enable them to make their own choices. The reason for Mr Casamitjana’s dismissal is different from that which he states but clearly this is confidential information which we are respecting.” 

Veganism at the League

Vegans and vegetarians have been among the League’s staff, management and Trustee board for decades. 

Luis Calvo-Ramos, Head of Digital and Data at the League, said: 

“I am vegan and have been at the League for over two years, and I must say that the League is the most vegan- friendly working environment that I've ever seen. The League is an inclusive organisation where our beliefs are respected, diversity is embraced and nobody is discriminated against, no matter if you're a foreigner, like myself, belong to a racial minority, belong to the LGBT+ community or practice whatever religion you believe in. It is therefore very sad that the League is being so undeservedly attacked in this way.” 

Paul Tillsley, Head of Conservation and Education, said:

"I have been vegan for decades. I have worked full-time for the League Against Cruel Sports since 2000 and, even though promoting a plant-based lifestyle isn’t one of the League’s charitable objectives, I have always been well catered for at League events. The same certainly couldn’t be said for other animal welfare or nature conservation charities, until very recently.” 

Emily Lawrence, Regional Campaigns Manager, said:

“As a vegan and an employee of the League I have been made very welcome at the League. My dietary requirements and ethical beliefs have always been respected and considered and at no time in the last twelve months have I felt any discrimination toward me.”

Darryl Cunnington, Head of Investigations, said: 

“We have vegan, vegetarian and omnivore employees and supporters. In my (vegetarian) experience no one has ever been discriminated against for being vegan or vegetarian; if anything, their dietary beliefs and personal feelings have been catered for above those who chose to be omnivore!”

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