A Montreal based handbag company, Matt and Natt, have been the subject of a complaint before the human rights commission.
The company, who has been making Vegan handbags for the past 15 years, have a strict no-meat policy on premises.
The company’s founder and creative director, Inder Bedi, said the no-meat policy has been around since he started the company in 1995 as part of a school project for Concordia University in Montreal. Employees are told upfront in the job interview that the company is a meat- free zone.
“This is very much a vegan company, and we just felt it would be odd if we had meat and fish floating around the premises,” he said in an interview. “So meat and fish are banned. Employees are free to eat lunch at the dozens of non-vegetarian restaurants in the area, or eat their meat on street benches in front of the company’s head office.”
Most of the company’s 18 staff are not vegetarian. A former employee, who wanted to remain anonymous, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that she was forced to sneak meat into her purse and hide it in her car to get around the company’s strict no-meat policy.
“It’s a free country,” she told the broadcaster. “I think we should eat what we want.”
Companies have a right to protect the safety of their workplace and the integrity of their product, but the issue becomes murkier when a business requires an employee’s commitment to the philosophy of the brand, said Cara Zwibel, director of the fundamental freedoms project at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
The Human Rights Commission said the employee’s complaint is an “interesting” issue, it has no plans to investigate it as a human rights complaint.
So what do you, readers of animal wrongs, think? Is it a human rights issue, a bad corporate policy that would be better handled by the better business bureau, or is the complaintant nuts and should employees have to change their entire lifestyle, diet and philosophy to match that of their employer?