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Photo Credit: Instagram @phattgerman
Is it discrimination to not hire somebody for a job just because they’re vegan? A tattoo artist in Cheltanham, Gloucestershire England who goes by the alias “Phatt German” doesn’t think so. The Swedish tattoo artist residing in the UK posted a job ad on his Instagram account reading: "We have space for another artist, you’ve got to be drug free, cigarette free, not vegan or too political, don’t want someone sensitive or politically correct, absolutely NO coil machine users, no hipsters, no blackwork or neo traditional as there’s enough here as it is, male only, preferably OCD with cleaning and hygiene, no spoilt brats that thinks it’s hard to work 5-6 days per week tattooing, no grumpy gits or turning up late, EVER.
Photo Credit: Instagram: phattgerman
However, the tattoo artist does not believe these requirements are discriminatory at all, and defends his actions by saying that this is no different than requiring separate changing rooms for men and women. He goes on to mention that his clientele are predominantly male and that they would feel more comfortable with a male tattoo artist rather than a female – especially when a tattoo in an intimate area is requested.
"There’s lots of female only studios around advertising for female artists only.
"Same reasons as female only studios would argue they don’t want to have male artist in their shops because of their female clientele.
"Hairdressers, clinics etc have policies about men separated from women, for the sake of everyone feeling at ease in an awkward situation."
German claims to have worked with all sorts of people in the past, but sometimes it works and other times it doesn’t. "I’m upset someone would misinterpret me for being sexist, at the end of the day there’s female shops and male shops" and said that he's "100 per cent equal rights for everyone."
Photo Credit: Instagram: phattgerman
There were no comments on the non-vegan requirement for the position or why this would affect the quality of the work performed. However, since the public backlash on his account, German has since hired someone for the position however, who apparently happens to be vegan.
Conversely a situation in New Zealand is also stirring controversy regarding discrimination on the grounds of veganism – but this time the victims are carnists. The animal rights group SAFE posted a job advert for a new Media and Communications Advisor. However, one of the job requirements was that the candidate would need to be vegan in order to be considered.
The Human Rights Commission in New Zealand considers this to be legal, but Kathryn Dalziel, an employment lawyer says that this is a breach of their Human Rights Act (HRA) and the Privacy Act: “The question is, why does a comms advisor need to be vegan? Could somebody who isn't a vegan do the job?”
As veganism for many is an ethical belief, Dalziel claims that this directly breaches the Human Rights Act which protects against discrimination on the grounds of: ethical beliefs, sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity, nationality, disability, religion, political opinion, employment status or family status.
The Privacy Act is also challenged as disclosure of a person’s ethical beliefs would need to be made when applying for this job - potentially a breach of a person’s private information and personal beliefs. The HRA however, does accommodate certain exceptions such as the right for a Catholic church to hire only male priests.
New Zealand Parliament Building
SAFE’s Chief Executive Debra Ashton responded by saying that their choice to only hire vegans was an attempt to find somebody that aligned with their organisation’s goals.
"If our staff and leadership don't walk the talk, we are not in a good position to advocate for animals. You can't speak to our audience with much conviction while drinking a cow-milk latte.
"I am quite comfortable we are not breaking any rules."
Picture: A female executive
SAFE also added that all of their employees are currently vegan with the exception of one person who is transitioning from vegetarianism to veganism. They claim that this creates a better work environment where everyone is on the same page. They had been given the go ahead from the HRA three years ago with no issues and say they are completely within their rights to only hire vegans.
As the vegan community is ever increasing in numbers, issues such these will inevitably arise. People will need to be increasingly aware as the community continues to grow and gains a bigger presence. According to statistics from The Vegan Society, the number of vegans in the UK increased from 150,000 in 2006 to 540,000 in 2016.
Do you agree with the selection of employees based on their ethical and dietary lifestyles? Please comment below!