Is vegetarianism a “protected characteristic”? Conisbee

Mr G Conisbee v Crossley Farms Ltd & Ors [2019] ET 3335357/2018 was a preliminary hearing to determine whether or not vegetarianism was “capable of satisfying the requirement and definition of being a philosophical belief (protected characteristic) under the Equality Act 2010” [1]. The Respondents did not dispute that Mr Conisbee was a vegetarian, nor that he had a genuine belief in his vegetarianism: however, they argued that simply being a vegetarian could not in itself constitute a protected characteristic [2].

Mr Conisbee had been employed by Crossley Farms as a Waiter/Barman from April 2018 until he resigned on 30 August 2018 [7]. He alleged that in June or July 2018 the third Respondent had called him “gay” because he was a vegetarian [56]. The basis of his complaint was discrimination on the grounds of religion and belief, together with a claim for notice pay [7]. There were also contested procedural points: what follows, however, is concerned solely with the issue of vegetarianism as a protected characteristic. Continue reading