An NHS Foundation Trust in London were discriminating against vegans in a job advertisement for an Occupational Therapist in Eating Disorders. The original advert stated: “Unfortunately [applicants] with vegan diets cannot be considered.”
Jeanette Rowley, a founding member of the IVRA, said: “The advertisement was explicitly excluding vegan applicants. Under the Equality Act 2010, this is an example of Direct Discrimination.
“Direct Discrimination can occur when people with protected characteristics are treated less favourably. On this occasion, the NHS Trust were treating vegans less favourably by deciding not to employ them because it was (falsely) assumed that they follow a restricted diet. This less favourable treatment is unlawful under the UK Equality Act because veganism falls within the scope of the protected characteristic Religion and Belief.”
Jeanette wrote to the NHS Trust to explain that veganism is protected as an ethical orientation and is not a restricted diet or a diet of any kind and that the Trust is under a duty, created by the Equality Act, not to discriminate and to promote equality of opportunity.
She also advised the Trust to contact The Vegan Society and the IVRA for more information about veganism and its protected status. The Trust dealt with the matter quite quickly by amending the advertisement.
A swift apology and correction followed, with the offending words being removed from the job advertisement, with qualified vegans now feeling able to apply and being considered fairly.
The Trust spokesperson said: “We’re sorry for the offence we caused and yes we did speedily change the advert.
“We welcome anyone of any belief applying for any job in our eating disorders service as long as they can fulfill the specific requirements of that job; in this case, it includes modeling eating a broad range of foods patients might perceive as risky.
“This requirement was wrongly summarised as about the person applying and not the clinical requirement of the job and we apologise for that.
“The Eating Disorders Service is a great place to work and provides an excellent service because it has excellent people working there, from a broad range of backgrounds and beliefs, and that’s a strength.”
Laws such as The Human Rights Act 1998 (in the UK) and the European Convention on Human Rights give vegans legal protection. Our moral right to fair treatment is codified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948.
Telling potential vegan applicants that they ‘cannot be considered’ can be against the law. Call people out when you see this happen – it’s potentially unlawful. If you think you’ve spotted something that seems to be discriminating against vegans, please take a screenshot of it and get in touch with The Vegan Society immediately.
Image: Stock image