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British Airways employee wins discrimination case

British Airways employee wins discrimination case

A woman who claimed she was on the receiving end of religious discrimination after wearing a cross to work has won her case against British Airways.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg found in Nadia Eweida’s favour in a landmark legal battle – after British courts had dismissed her claims.

Miss Eweida, 60, from Twickenham, who works at the airline’s check-in department at Heathrow, originally took British Airways to a tribunal after claiming she was sent home from work in 2006 for wearing the Christian cross.

The ECHR ruled that there had been a violation of Miss Eweida’s right to demonstrate her faith. The British government was ordered to pay Ms Eweida 2,000 euros (£1,600) and 30,000 euros (£25,000) in costs. The ECHR rejected similar claims made by another three Christian employees. The airline said its uniform policy changed in 2007 to allow staff to ‘wear symbols of faith’ and that Miss Eweida and others had been working under these arrangements for the past six years.

Justin Govier, IBB Solicitors’ head of employment, comments:

“It is clear that the European Court considers that our own courts have been too restricted in their views as to the manner in which an individual is entitled to express their religious beliefs. However, the individual’s right is not absolute and an employer is able to justify restrictions on this right. Justification will require a careful balancing act between the individual’s right and other wider considerations.”

Our Employment team provides advice on the employment aspects of all major business decisions. For advice, contact a member of the team: call us on 01895 207892 or email employment@ibblaw.co.uk.