J is an ethical vegan, meaning he has chosen to live, as far as possible, without the use of animal products. He found out his employer, an anti-hunting charity, invested pension funds in firms that tested on animals. He raised concerns about this with colleagues and was dismissed for gross misconduct. He brought a case against his employer, saying he had been unlawfully dismissed for raising concerns that should have been protected under his right to freedom of belief in Section 10 of the Equality Act.
Because J’s employer was not a public body, he raised his claim under the Equality Act rather than the Human Rights Act. However, the judge said Section 10 of the Equality Act is very similar to Article 9 of the Human Rights Act and Section 3 of the Human Rights Act means laws should be read compatibly with the Human Rights Act wherever possible, so this right should also be protected under the Equality Act.
The judge said J's ethical veganism met all the criteria to be a protected belief as set in a famous Article 9 case: it was genuinely held; substantial; serious; worthy of respect and compatible with human dignity; and must not simply be a viewpoint or conflict with the rights of others.
The employer recognised that J “did nothing wrong”, paid financial compensation and changed its default pension fund to "an ethical one closer to our values.”
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