SW Legal studies in Business

Veganism Not a Religion for Purposes of Employment Discrimination
Description Appeals court affirmed that a person denied employment because of his vegan beliefs could not sue for religious discrimination. Veganism involves various beliefs that do not rise to the level of a religious creed.
Topic Employment Discrimination
Key Words Religious Discrimination; Veganism
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Friedman applied for employment at a pharmaceutical warehouse. He was offered a position and told that, as a condition of employment, he would have to be vaccinated against the mumps. He refused to be vaccinated because the vaccine is grown in chicken embryos. He said that it would violate his system of beliefs as a vegan, which prohibits the use of any animal-related product. The employment offer was withdrawn; he sued for discrimination based on religion. The district court dismissed the case, holding that veganism is not a religion. Friedman appealed.

Affirmed. "First, a religion addresses fundamental and ultimate questions having to do with deep and imponderable matters. Second, a religion is comprehensive in nature; it consists of a belief-system as opposed to an isolated teaching. Third, a religion often can be recognized by the presence of certain formal and external signs." Friedman's beliefs are sincerely held, but while he has strong beliefs governing what products he should eat, wear and use, they are not sufficient to constitute a recognized religion. There is no religious creed; it is a philosophy or way of life.

Citation Friedman v. Southern California Permanente Medical Group, 102 Cal.App.4th 39 (Ct. App., Calif., 2002)

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