Is veganism your religion?  »

First, a customer service rep at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center was fired in 2010 for refusing to have an mandatory flu shot, because flu shots are “derived from eggs” (ugh) and she’s vegan. CCHMC didn’t want this lady, Sakile Chenzira, getting sick and passing on that illness to the patients. Ms. Chenzira sued, asserting that her veganism was essentially her religion, and it is illegal to fire people for their religious beliefs.  CCHMC filed a motion to dismiss the suit, because veganism is a lifestyle, not a religion.

But! Late last month, a district court judge refused to dismiss, stating that

The court finds that in the context of a motion to dismiss, it merely needs to determine whether plaintiff has alleged a plausible claim. … The court finds it plausible that Plaintiff could subscribe to veganism with a sincerity equating that of traditional religious views.

Of course this doesn’t address the whole “we didn’t want her getting the flu and germing up the hospital” issue, but we are less concerned with that as with the idea of veganism as a sort of religion (obviously). Does this mean that when the office has a pizza party and doesn’t even get a meatless pizza, let alone like one half of one pizza without cheese, I can make a discrimination complaint to HR? Not that I would (scared of HR) (have a small martyr complex), but who knows what ramifications Sakile S. Chenzira v. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center will have!

For more information, read Senior District Court Judge Arthur Spiegel’s opinion [pdf]. The trial date is set for July 9.

[Photo by Chiva Congelado via Flickr]

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