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News – Religious discrimination

December 2008

Religious discrimination

 

A Christian employee of British Airways has begun an appeal to recover around £3,500 in lost wages following her absence from work for three months during an industrial dispute. The case results from an employment tribunal decision that British Airways (BA) did not discriminate when it asked her to stop wearing a cross visibly at work.

     Nadia Eweida, 56, from Twickenham, south-west London, wants to overturn the ruling that she did not suffer religious discrimination. Miss Eweida contends that Muslim and Sikh employees had been allowed to wear hijabs and religious Kara bangles respectively, while she as a Christian was asked to remove her cross necklace or hide it from sight.

     The Employment Appeal Tribunal heard she was sent home in September 2006 after she failed to reach a compromise with managers over the visible display of a plain silver cross on a chain around her neck. In a highly public U-turn, BA subsequently changed its policy to allow religious symbols to be visibly worn.

     Miss Eweida was unpaid during the period of her dispute and did not return to work until February of the following year, after the airline changed its uniform policy. Her case centres on her claim the airline had ‘ruled for one minority group but not the other’.

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