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Vegans should be legally exempt from workplace tea rounds, argues London lawyer

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They shouldn’t be asked to handle cows’ milk

Vegan workers should be legally exempt from doing the office tea round on the grounds of discrimination, a London lawyer has argued.

Employment law specialist Alex Monaco claims vegans shouldn’t be put in a position at work where they are required to handle cows’ milk. The lawyer, who is vegan himself, goes as far as arguing that veganism should be treated as a legally “protected characteristic” under the Equality Act 2010.

“If you were Jewish or Muslim and told to get a round of bacon sandwiches in, no one would bat an eyelid if you refused,” Leeds law grad Monaco told The Sun newspaper. “But if you’re vegan and refused to buy a pint of milk to make tea because you believe the dairy industry is torturing cows, then you would be laughed out of the kitchen.”

The latest comments from across Legal Cheek

Continuing, Monaco said many vegans feel they’re not adequately catered for in the work canteens whilst the “sandwiches all have butter in them”.

The 38-year-old lawyer, who founded London outfit Monaco Solicitors, added: “Vegans do get bullied — I was even bullied on a holiday with friends when I couldn’t eat anything from the butchers or pizzeria.”

But not everyone agrees. While accepting plant-based options in her office canteen can be limited, one anonymous City-working vegan told Legal Cheek:

“I don’t believe I should be exempt from making the office tea just because I don’t drink cows’ milk. The idea of trying to make veganism a legally protected characteristic is ludicrous.”

Monaco, however, remains undeterred, telling the newspaper: “The tide is changing now. It’s a movement. If we can get the law changed, people’s views may follow on from that.”

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88 Comments

Anonymous

You know that one person in the office. Yes, that’s her.

Anonymous

It’s a bloke isn’t it?

Archibald Pomp O'City

That’s enough of your sauce, you.

Miki

What about trying black tea and letting others „handle cow milk” on their own?

Anonymous

Yes but what about the tea leaves and the poor plants from which the leaves were forcibly removed? Prosecute the tea pickers!

Anonymous

It’s not about handling, the article specifically says “refuse to buy a pint of milk” – because this would be morally wrong – for someone who cares about animals.

Anonymous

This miserable campaign sounds like something VOTE CORBYN would advocate.

Anonymous

There are animal lovers all across the political spectrum. Or are you suggesting Tories don’t like animals?

Anonymous

Go back to bed with your gibberish. It was referring to the person who constantly posts VOTE CORBYN sh!te on here.

Anonymous

lol what a load of crock shite

Anonymous

Presumabley they also do not handle plastics, use petrol cars or sit on leather sofas.

Anonymous

Sitting on someone’s sofa isn’t a problem – it’s about money – vegans don’t want to support these industries with their money – because they know it to be morally wrong.

I’m not vegan (yet), and I know my purchasing choices are not morally sound. I’m getting better though.

Anonymous

If you are not buying the milk, but putting it in someone else’s coffee then you are not supporting the industry. If you are not buying the leather sofa but just sitting on it then you are not supporting the industry.

Get where you’re comming from and can see why you refuse to put money into an industry you disagree with. But I don’t see a logical difference between refusing to put milk you didn’t buy in someone elses coffee but being happy to sit on a leather sofa you didn’t buy.

Anonymous

I think in the firm above, the “tea round” delegate also has to pop to the shop to buy the milk.

Anonymous

But it isn’t their money that it being used to buy the milk, it’s the firms. Which is why I don’t think the argument stands up. Using the firm’s money to buy the milk is no different to sitting on the leather sofa bought with the firm’s money. I’m quite concerned about the amount of plastic waste going into the oceans. I’m certainly entitled to decide to use slightly more expensive company A rather than company B in my own purchasing decisions as company A uses less packaging.

But if its my job to order the stationary and my boss tells me to order from company B, I haven’t got the right to refuse to do it. And if I go ahead and use the firm’s money to buy from company A without authorisation I don’t have an Equality Act claim if I’m sacked.

Anonymous

Be vegan if you want, but to refuse to touch milk is completely moronic. No one is asking you to guzzle it. Even if you refuse I do not accept that people are going to bully you for it, they’ll just think you are weird for refusing to carry some milk. Which you are.

Anonymous

Digestion isn’t what vegans have a problem with, it’s supporting the industry behind the product.

Anonymous

Is one supporting the industry by moving some dairy a few feet?

Or is the problem the fact that someone else is supporting the industry?

Anonymous

I am allergic to a popular confectionary. I still buy it for my wife once a month, I still buy it at Easter in egg form, I still buy it as a gift for others, I even buy it when on holiday and bring it into the office for colleagues. I just don’t eat the damn thing or lick my fingers after handling. It’s mind-numbingly simple.

Anonymous

Your allergy isn’t a belief that the industry behind it is cruel and should not be supported though, so it’s irrelevant. There is no real difference between a vegan’s belief in not using animal products and religious beliefs in some other relevant action.

Anonymous

Religion isn’t protected because of a stance related the consumption of animals. Veganism is morality – not faith. It is no more a religion than being opposed to slavery, murder, or child molestation. The argument that there is “no real difference” between religion and veganism is fundamentally flawed.

Anonymous

There is a difference between a vegan’s belief and a religious person’s belief though. At least the vegans have offered some evidence that the farming industry is cruel.

Anonymous

Could a belief such as veganism not perhaps be encompassed within the “religion or belief”. I vaguely remember a moral opposition to blood sports constituting a belief for the purpose of discrimination.

Anonymous

This is a mind-numbingly crap example. You could have picked many good ones to support your position, but you picked an awful one, indicating your terrible judgement. You compare choices made in light of an allergy to those made with regard to a moral belief. How thick can you be! I hope you’re not this bad in court!

Anonymous

Grow the fuck up.

Anonymous

Completely insulting to suggest it should be a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.

Anonymous

Religion is protected. Why any is veganism any more ludicrous?

Anonymous

Seems like this kind of thing should just resolved informally in an office, rather than going to the effort and expense of legislating on it.

Anonymous

This type of numpty gives Employment lawyers a bad name.

Anonymous

“Vegans do get bullied — I was even bullied on a holiday with friends when I couldn’t eat anything from the butchers or pizzeria.”

Today’s English class is around the difference between the words “counldn’t” and “wouldn’t”…

Colm O'Driscoll

I’m confused. What vegan products would you usually but from a butchers?

Anonymous

The point is that he is physically capable of eating products from a butcher so he could do so but instead, rightly or wrongly, he chooses not to. Therefore it should be “wouldn’t” rather than “couldn’t”.

Anonymous

“Mercilessly taunted by friends” is probably more like it – how pathetic do you need to be to be a British person who gets upset by their mates making fun of them? That’s 90% of British conversation.

Anonymous

90%? Some people’s mates are nicer than others I guess…

Anonymous

Veganism, and also vegetarianism, are obviously protected as philosophical beliefs under the Equality Act. True, there’s no case to date, but that’s because it’s so obvious that they are protected (if held as beliefs).

Anonymous

Its not obvious and if you think it through if every belief is protected then nobody would have any rights at all. For a start, if someone holds the belief that killing and eating animals is a moral duty and vegans should just buy the milk like everyone else, if your argument is correct then they would have an Equality Act claim against any employer who made them take an extra turn at buying the milk and excused the vegans. They are being indirectly discriminated against as a result of their belief and they are being treated less favourably than someone else as a result of their protected characteristic.

Satanism is a belief, but an employer would be entitled to insist they don’t sacrifice goats in the office. Neo-Nazism is a belief, but you can still be sacked for tweeting anti-Semitic crap. Paedophiles hold the belief that having sex with children is perfectly acceptable, but that isn’t unlawful to criminalise them for their belief. Rastafarians belief that smoking cannabis is acceptable, but it remains illegal to possess it. Communists hold the belief that wealth should be redistributed, but you can still be sacked for stealing from the petty cash and giving it to the homeless. Hunters hold the belief that hunting foxes with dogs, but it is still a crime and you can be sacked for it. Environmentalists hold the belief that we should reduce plastic waste, but if its your job to order the stationary you can be sacked if you refuse to order from the cheaper company that users a lot of packaging. None of these are protected characteristics.

Anonymous

The following characteristics are protected characteristics—
age;
disability;
gender reassignment;
marriage and civil partnership;
pregnancy and maternity;
race;
religion or belief;
sex;
sexual orientation.

Organism does not fit into any of these categories. Don’t try and claim it is a belief like religion.

Anonymous

*veganism

Anonymous

It is a belief, plain and simple. To argue against this is moronic.

Anonymous

Taken from the Vegan Society website:

“For example, a work rota requiring staff to take turns buying cow’s milk is not directly discriminatory against vegans; it does not treat them differently because they are vegan. However, the impact on vegans is indirectly discriminatory, as purchasing cow’s milk involves supporting animal exploitation and killing, which conflicts with their convictions. Indirect discrimination is only permissible if the employer can show that the blanket policy has a legitimate aim and that it is necessary and proportionate to refuse to exempt vegans from the rota.”

Anonymous

The fact that it is on the Vegan Website doesn’t make it correct. Self-evidently most people hold the belief that drinking milk is perfectly okay as most people do drink milk. That is not a belief vegans share, but it is none the less as much a belief as the opposite belief held by vegans. If the employer exempts vegans from the rota but does not exempt the non-vegans then he has by definition treated the non-vegans less favourably than the vegans. They all have the inconvenience of going to get the milk and the vegans do not. They are being treated less favourably as a result of their belief.

I am concerned about global warming, so I chose to pay the extra tenner a month on my home electricity bill to buy my electricity only from solar and wind power. I’m not going to fix the environment on my own by doing it, but if everybody did it then we would. It’s the same argument as vegans not putting their money into the diary & meat industries as if everybody did it then there would not be any animal farming. I get the point. But if my employer is a cheap skate and doesn’t do the same I am being forced to consume non-renewable energy when I plug my laptop in at work or turn on the lights. By I can’t just refuse to work on the basis that using non-renewable energy conflicts with my personal beliefs. These are not protected charactistics.

Anonymous

So basically the person has read this and decided to make a thing of it at work?

Anonymous

I have the philosphical belief that I should not have to come into work, but should still be paid. Obviously a protected charactistic then.

Anonymous

There is more logic behind veganism than there is behind pie-in-the-sky religious beliefs.

Anonymous

Wouldn’t disagree. But the Equality Act only protects religious beliefs not beliefs in general. Many people may logicaly hold the view that cannabis should be legal, the threashold for income tax should be raised or that house prices are too high (for example). But you will not have a claim against an employer who won’t let you smoke weed or who deducts PAYE in conflict with your belief or an estate agent who advertises a shoe box studio flat for £300k.

Anonymous

True, perhaps scrap the religious beliefs bit from the Act. Would also need to take steps to prevent schools and parents from indoctrinating children.

Anonymous

It’s actually quite rude and hurtful to dairy farmers to suggest they torture cows.

Who will protect these farmers?

Anonymous

The EU subsidies

Anonymous

If dairy farmers don’t want to be called rapists, murderers, torturers and slave owners they could always just stop farming animals. Until then they’re free to cry about people calling them what they are on the internet.

Anonymous

Rapists? What the hell kind of farmers have you met?

Anonymous

THANK THE GODS FOR BESSIE, AND HER UDDERS!!!

Anonymous

Animals are forcibly artificially inseminated – this is where the rape thing comes from.

A non-knee mousse

But you are not legally required to do a tea round either, so his proposal does not make sense. You do not need an exemption if you do not have a general rule to the opposite effect…

Are you sure this guy is a lawyer?

Anonymous

You often have a duty to do any tasks prescribed to you…

A non-knee mousse

No. It’s an office matter, not a legal requirement.

Anonyman

What an absolute sad act. I’m sure that he’s good fun at parties.

Anonymous

“…I was even bullied on a holiday with friends when I couldn’t eat anything from the butchers…” – Ahh yes, my first port of call on holiday is always finding the local Tripadvisor rated #1 butchers. Doubly so as a vegan.

Jesus wept.

Bob

Every time I read an article about vegans being obnoxious I kill one of my beasts and up my meat consumption for a few weeks.

Anon

And I bathe in milk and wear a hat made of cheese

Anonymous

My favourite vegetables are meat ones.

Facts to accept or ignore

– If that was a cat, there would be uproar.
– Some countries eat dog.
– Cows are intelligent, affectionate and loving.
– Pigs are even more intelligent.
– If it’s wrong to enslave and eat one sentient life – then it’s all wrong.

Mitch Kennedy

Alex Monaco is correct, and ahead of his time. People who care about animals are increasing in numbers, as is the awareness of the meat and dairy industries.

The legal status is important to prevent workplace discrimination against animal lovers.

Anonymous

I care about animals. I care that they are tasty and cooked properly. I like my steak very rare, I want to see blood oozing out.

Anonymous

“I want to see blood oozing out”.

That’s what I said to yo momma last night, the filthy minx.

Anon

I’d hurt anyone who treated my dog the way that cows, pigs, turkey and chicken are treated by the meat and dairy industries.

Anonymous

Dogs are far more sophisticated animals than cows or chicken. You can mow a lawn, you can swat a spider, you can eat a cow, you can care for a dog. I think things are fine as they are.

Raised around cows

I’m sure you’ve met spiders, but you’ve clearly never met a cow if you think that dogs are more sophisticated. Cows are very smart, smarter than most breeds of dog. They’re also very affectionate and gentle creatures. Tame cows will lay their heads on you, and bovine mothers are very affectionate with their young. Cows also love to play with inflatable balls and can be trained to spin, sit, kneel and moo on command.

Anonymous

Why are comments being deleted again? Why is it ‘wrongthink’ to express an opinion that this is moronic idea?

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