A vegan firefighter from Ontario is filing a human rights complaint for food he was served while battling the fires in British Columbia.
Adam Knauff, 40, says while on duty in B.C., he was not only discriminated against by not being given vegan food, but he also claims he was suspended for asserting his rights.
“The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry discriminated against me and failed to accommodate my sincerely held ethical beliefs when it failed to provide me with food that accommodated my personal commitment to ethical veganism, and then disciplined me and suspended me because i attempted to assert my right to accommodation that sincerely held ethical belief,” Knauff said.
The Ontario firefighter says that the ministry had long known about his dietary constraints and that he also had to fill out a standard food information form for his trip.
He claims that on some days during his deployment to Williams Lake he was not provided with food that was vegan and therefore was forced to go hungry. They apparently held a BBQ where vegan burgers would be served, however Knauff says the chef did not switch gloves after handling the beef patties.
The breaking point for Knauff he says, was when he pointed out to his supervisor that his meal was not vegan, and they sent him home and suspended him for three days without pay. The ministry says he was suspended for his “inappropriate, insubordinate, and unprofessional and aggressive behaviour.” He was also banned from fighting fires outside the province for the remainder of 2017 and all of 2018.
The ministry alleges that Knauff threw the non-vegan food at staff, but he denies the allegation.
The ministry’s argument is that the vegan status does not meet the legal definition of creed, which is the religious or christian beliefs that they legally have to accommodate. However, Knauff says otherwise.