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HR Legal

Vegan rights on the menu

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Legal news
calendar 24 May 2024
globus Denmark

In the last couple of years, several cases have been brought regarding the human right to vegan alternatives in public institutions like kindergartens, schools, and, most recently, hospitals. The human rights only apply directly in the public sector. Nevertheless, the cases might also affect companies in the private sector.

All employees are protected from direct or indirect discrimination based on their religion and beliefs. The rules do not define beliefs but refer to the human rights, which, with the most recent cases from Denmark and abroad, also cover a belief in living vegan.

Although these are other countries’ rules, cases from the UK and Norway show that vegans are also protected from discrimination in the labour market. Therefore, there are strong indications that vegans may also be protected in the private labour market in Denmark.

A mixed dish

There are only a few cases about employees’ right to special food in the workplace. According to the general rules, companies must be able to objectively justify indirect discrimination against employees on objective grounds that are necessary.

Recent cases in the public sector show that a mandatory lunch scheme that does not favour vegan food can be illegal discrimination. This could be the case if the company has not investigated the possibility of offering vegan food or exempting the employee from the scheme and allowing them to bring their own lunch instead.

However, it is hardly possible to make a general requirement for employers to offer vegan food as part of the lunch scheme. The same applies in other areas where religion or beliefs place special requirements on food at the workplace.

IUNO’s opinion

IUNO recommends that companies pay attention to employees’ special dietary requirements due to their religion or belief when serving food at the workplace. Companies must be able to justify not considering this. At a minimum, management should explore other options, and if there is a solution without any major practical or financial burden, companies should offer it.

All employees are protected from direct or indirect discrimination based on their religion and beliefs. The rules do not define beliefs but refer to the human rights, which, with the most recent cases from Denmark and abroad, also cover a belief in living vegan.

Although these are other countries’ rules, cases from the UK and Norway show that vegans are also protected from discrimination in the labour market. Therefore, there are strong indications that vegans may also be protected in the private labour market in Denmark.

A mixed dish

There are only a few cases about employees’ right to special food in the workplace. According to the general rules, companies must be able to objectively justify indirect discrimination against employees on objective grounds that are necessary.

Recent cases in the public sector show that a mandatory lunch scheme that does not favour vegan food can be illegal discrimination. This could be the case if the company has not investigated the possibility of offering vegan food or exempting the employee from the scheme and allowing them to bring their own lunch instead.

However, it is hardly possible to make a general requirement for employers to offer vegan food as part of the lunch scheme. The same applies in other areas where religion or beliefs place special requirements on food at the workplace.

IUNO’s opinion

IUNO recommends that companies pay attention to employees’ special dietary requirements due to their religion or belief when serving food at the workplace. Companies must be able to justify not considering this. At a minimum, management should explore other options, and if there is a solution without any major practical or financial burden, companies should offer it.

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Anders

Etgen Reitz

Partner

Søren

Hessellund Klausen

Partner

Kirsten

Astrup

Managing associate (on leave)

Sofie

Aurora Braut Bache

Managing associate

Cecillie

Groth Henriksen

Senior associate

Rikke

Grønlund Holm

Senior associate

Johan

Gustav Dein

Associate

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The team

Alexandra

Jensen

Legal advisor

Anders

Etgen Reitz

Partner

Caroline

Thorsen

Junior legal assistant

Cecillie

Groth Henriksen

Senior associate

Johan

Gustav Dein

Associate

Julie

Meyer

Senior legal assistant

Kirsten

Astrup

Managing associate (on leave)

Maria

Kjærsgaard Juhl

Legal advisor

Rikke

Grønlund Holm

Senior associate

Sofie

Aurora Braut Bache

Managing associate

Søren

Hessellund Klausen

Partner