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Is being vegetarian protected in employment law?

Executive summary
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Many of you will know that I was a Human Resources Director in my former life. One of the most interesting aspects of employment law is discrimination legislation and this evolved rapidly during the time that I was an HR Director (working in the UK and US). The UK Sex Discrimination Act dates back to 1975 and race relations acts were passed in 1965 and 1976 – long before my time. The Disability Discrimination Act was introduced in 1995 – around the time I was moving into HR. The Employment Equality Acts (2003) made it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation, or religion/belief. The Age Discrimination Act came into force in 2004. I was Executive Director for HR at the Welsh Development Agency at this time and our professional training in employment law was provided by Eversheds.

All protected characteristics were wrapped up in the UK Equalities bill (2010). There are nine (in alphabetical order): age; disability; gender reassignment; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; and sexual orientation.

The US protects similar characteristics with a couple of interesting differences: age (40 or older); disability; genetic information; military service; national origin; race/color; religion; sex (including pregnancy); and sexual orientation.

A recent ruling at Norwich crown court combined my current and former lives – is being vegetarian protected in employment law?


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