Since my old pal Trevor Phillips’s departure from the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (ERHC) this body which the media love to hate has largely been out of the public eye. But the weekend papers made amends with a flurry of mischievous reports but one which would be difficult for them to have massaged.
Apparently vegans can now sue employers who give them tasks or environments considered offensive to their beliefs. Examples cited include working with dairy products to sitting on a leather chair. Oh, groan! When I was travelling around Indian with Vivek Singh to find chefs for The Cinnamon Club, I would ask Hindu applicants if they would have a problem cooking with beef and Muslim applicants the same about pork.
None of them did and one of them, a Muslim, is now head chef of Cinnamon Kitchen where last week I saw there was pork on the menu. I don’t know whether Abdul eats pork (and I don’t need to know) but he serves pork because that’s something his customers want; their will is greater than his.
At Roast we have a teetotal manager who eloquently sells wines based on his product knowledge rather than on his palate.
It would be a crazy vegan who came looking for work in a restaurant called Roast but these are crazy times and so if they did and we turned them down on the basis that they couldn’t just work with the ingredients suitable to their beliefs (faith is too strong a word) we would be open to legal action. As indeed we would if an existing employee converted to veganism and said they could no longer touch meat and dairy and we then said they no longer could work for the company.
Hopefully one of the many business organisations that claim to represent people like me will issue a challenge to this ruling. My right to run a sustainable business is going to be damaged – did the EHRC think about that?