Broccoli Worship? Federal Court Finds That Veganism Can Be A “Religion” Under Title VII

In a recent case, Chenzira v. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Med. Ctr., an Ohio federal court found that plaintiff stated a claim for religious discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Defendant fired plaintiff because plaintiff refused to get a flu shot.  Plaintiff alleged that this “violated her religious and philosophical convictions because she is a vegan”.

On its motion to dismiss, Defendant argued that “veganism does not qualify as a religion, but rather is no more than a dietary preference or social philosophy”.  The court disagreed:

The Court finds it plausible that Plaintiff could subscribe to veganism with a sincerity equating that of traditional religious views. … Th[is] conclusion is further bolstered by Plaintiff’s citation to essays and Biblical excerpts.  Although … it is not necessary that a religious group espouse a belief before it can qualify as religious, … the fact here that Plaintiff is not alone in articulating her view lends credence to her position.

It made clear, however, that its ruling “in no way addresses what it anticipates as Defendant’s justification for its termination of Plaintiff, the safety of patients at Children’s Hospital”, and that it merely found that the complaint “adequately alleges beliefs that are sincerely held so as to merit legal protection”.

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