BA worker was not discriminated against over cross ban

By staff writers
January 9, 2008

A British Airways worker has lost her case for religious discrimination over wearing a gold jewellery cross to work.

It is the latest in a spate of recent cases where Christians have claimed to be discriminated against, and courts have subsequently ruled that they have not.

Nadia Eweida, 56, was asked by BA to wear her cross under her clothing, as employees are not permitted to wear jewellery.

She took BA to an employment tribunal claiming it effectively discriminated against Christians since Muslims were allowed to wear hijabs, and Sikhs bangles.

However cross-wearing is entirely voluntary in Christianity, unlike the other items which are part of a core religious identity.

Churches subsequently used financial leverage and threats of boycotts to force British Airways to change its uniform policy and make a special exemption for the cross.

The airline changed its policy to allow crosses on chains over work clothes last year.

Following the news that she had lost her case for discrimination Nadia said: "I'm very disappointed,".

"The judge has given way for BA to have a victory on imposing their will on all their staff."

A BA spokesman said: "We are pleased that the tribunal's decision supports our position.

"Our current policy allows symbols of faith to be worn openly and has been developed with multi-faith groups and our staff."

The religious thinktank Ekklesia has been examining the claims of religious discrimination being made by Christians, and in 2006 published a book on the subject which looked at some of the pressure groups behind them.

Commenting on the latest case Ekklesia director Jonathan Bartley said: "Like many of the other claims of discrimination being made by Christians, this has turned out to be a false.

"People should be aware that behind many such cases there are groups whose interests are served by stirring up feelings of discrimination of marginalisation amongst Christians. What can appear to be a case of disrimination at first glance is often nothing of the sort. It is often more about Christians attempting to gain special privileges and exemptions."

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.