A VEGGIE waiter who claimed he was a picked on at work for his plant-based lifestyle has had his discrimination case dismissed.
George Conisbee told an employment tribunal that he was mocked for not eating meat while working at the Fritton Arms manor house hotel near Lowestoft, Suffolk.
But the tribunal tossed out his claim, ruling that vegetarianism is a “lifestyle choice” and not protected under the 2010 Equality Act.
The meat-free 20-year-old had quit his post after he was shouted at in front of customers for having turned up at work wearing an un-ironed shirt.
He claimed that shunning all food with a face was “a protected characteristic”, giving him the same rights as employees who suffer discrimination over their religious beliefs or sexual orientation.
A preliminary hearing was held by the tribunal in Norwich, Norfolk, to rule on whether vegetarianism was “capable of satisfying the requirement and definition of being a philosophical belief.”
The tribunal ruled that the claim was “not well founded” and that vegetarianism did not qualify for protection under the law.
Meat-dodging Conisbee had worked for four months at the 16th century hotel on the 5,000 acre Somerleyton estate which is home to Hugh Crossley, the fourth Baron Somerleyton.
Examples of the alleged discrimination suffered by Mr Conisbee were not revealed in the judgement
It said that he had quit on August 30 last year after writing a letter of resignation which highlighted an incident on August 28 when he was “told off for attending work in an un-ironed shirt.”
The judgement added: “It is accepted the Claimant was shouted at and may have been sworn at in front of customers.”
Conisbee was unable to bring a claim for constructive unfair dismissal as he had not worked on the estate for long enough, so instead claimed that his employer had discriminated against him for being vegetarian.
Dismissing the case, Judge Robin Postle said in his ruling: “It is clear the Claimant’s belief in vegetarianism is his opinion and viewpoint in that the world would be a better place if animals were not killed for food.
“The Tribunal concludes that that does not seem to be a belief capable of protection. It is simply not enough to have an opinion based on some real, or perceived, logic.”
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He added that it was “a lifestyle choice” which could not be described as “a substantial aspect of human life and behaviour”.
However he hinted that vegans could be included in the Act as there was “a clear cogency and cohesion in vegan belief” as they all shunned meat, fish and dairy products because they believed it was “contrary to a civilised society and against climate control.”
Mr Conisbee did not respond to requests for comment. The Somerleyton estate refused to comment.
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