A vegan Subway worker has won a harassment claim and been awarded almost £13,000 after being bullied about her dietary requirements.
Kady Reilly worked in a Subway franchise in Glasgow, where her former manager, Himanshu Lahar, reportedly tried to force her to eat foods she is allergic to or chooses not to consume.
Reilly was repeatedly instructed to “eat like a man,” and told, “eat it, what could happen?”
She carries an epi-pen due to serious food allergies.
The tribunal also heard that Lahar waved meat in Reilly’s face and told her, “NASA should send you back to Mars.”
The case was won on the basis that veganism is a philosophical belief system. It is therefore protected by section 10 of the Equality Act 2010.
Bullied for being vegan
Reilly told the court that she abstains from all products that are animal-derived and raises her two children as vegans. Her fundraising activities for animal charities and “peaceful activism” were also used as evidence of her vegan beliefs.
During her Subway employment, Reilly was repeatedly taunted for her beliefs, with Lahar waving slices of meat in her face. She also witnessed incidents of consumers’ veganism being disrespected.
The former Subway worker made complaints after witnessing Lahar serve dairy cheese to vegans when the plant-based alternative ran out. Franchise owner RT Management Bridgeton failed to act on concerns, forcing Reilly to report the issues to her local Environmental Health department.
Dismissed for telling the truth
After health inspections were carried out in September 2020, Reilly did not pass her probation period the following month. Once dismissed, she took RT Management Bridgeton to court for unfair dismissal and harassment, alongside other issues.
Reilly won her case after the presiding judge agreed that Lahar had harassed her. She was also found to be fired predominantly for contacting the Environmental Health team.
“We were satisfied on the basis of [her] evidence that her belief in veganism perpetrates her life and how she lives her life,” Judge Claire McManus said in court. “[She] showed that her practice of veganism is a belief intrinsic to her sense of identity.”
The case is reminiscent of Jordi Casamitjana, who won an unfair dismissal tribunal in 2020 after a lengthy litigation process. His legal battle set a new precedent for ethical veganism as a belief system protected from discrimination in the workplace.