A health organization has been forced to backtrack on a job advertisement which said applicants following vegan diets 'could not be considered'.
Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust published an advertisement for an Occupational Therapist in an Eating Disorders Service.
The Vegan Society challenged the Trust about the legality of the advertisement, along with associates from the International Vegan Rights Alliance [IVRA]. The Society also asked the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to examine this potentially unlawful direct discrimination against vegans.
According to Jeanette Rowley, founding member of the IVRA: “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.”
Rowley then contacted the Trust to explain that veganism is not a restricted diet and is a protected ethical orientation. Because of this, the Trust is under a duty, created by the Equality Act, not to discriminate and to promote equality of opportunity.
The Trust quickly amended the advertisement and issued the following statement: “Thank you for the opportunity to comment. 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 fulfil the specific requirements of that job; in this case it includes modelling 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.”