BA Employee Nadia Eweida Wins Cross Case
A British Airways employee has won a landmark legal battle over her right to wear a cross at work.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Nadia Eweida, a Coptic Christian, had been discriminated against under freedom of religion laws.
But three other Christian claimants, who launched similar action, lost their cases.
Miss Eweida, 60, took her case against the UK government to the ECHR after she was sent home for wearing a small silver cross around her neck in 2006 in breach of BA uniform codes.
She said she was "jumping for joy" at the ruling and was pleased it recognised the "anxiety, frustration and distress" she suffered.
"I'm very happy and very pleased that Christian rights have been vindicated in the UK and Europe," she added.
The British government was ordered to pay her £1,600 in damages and £25,000 to cover costs.
Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: "Delighted that principle of wearing religious symbols at work has been upheld - ppl shouldn't suffer discrimination due to religious beliefs."
An employment tribunal in Britain had ruled Miss Eweida, who lives in Twickenham, southwest London, but is originally from Egypt, did not suffer religious discrimination.
The decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court before Miss Eweida took her fight to the ECHR.
The European judges ruled there had been a violation of article nine (freedom of religion) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
They found a fair balance was not struck between Miss Eweida's desire to demonstrate her religious belief and BA's wish to "project a certain corporate image".
It said Miss Eweida's cross was discreet and cannot have detracted from her professional appearance.
"The court therefore concludes that, in these circumstances where there is no evidence of any real encroachment on the interests of others, the domestic authorities failed sufficiently to protect the first applicant's right to manifest her religion."
Miss Eweida returned to work in customer services at Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5 in February 2007, after BA changed its uniform policy on visible items of jewellery.
In a statement, the airline said it was not a party to this legal action, which was pursued against the UK government.
"Our own uniform policy was changed in 2007 to allow Miss Eweida and others to wear symbols of faith and she and other employees have been working under these arrangements for the last six years," the statement said.
"Miss Eweida has worked continuously for British Airways for 13 years."
Judges rejected the case of nurse Shirley Chaplin, 57, after they found she was asked to remove her cross for health and safety purposes.
The ruling also found against marriage counsellor Gary McFarlane, 51, who was sacked for saying he might object to offering sex therapy to homosexuals.
The judgement said Mr McFarlane took the role at counselling service Relate in the knowledge that clients could not be divided in up in accordance with their sexual orientation.
Registrar Lillian Ladele, who was disciplined when she refused to conduct same-sex civil partnership ceremonies, also lost her legal action.
The court decided Islington Council's action was "legitimate" given it was also obliged to consider the rights of same-sex couples.
All three plan to appeal the decision.
In reaction to the verdict, the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, said: "Christians and those of other faiths should be free to wear the symbols of their own religion without discrimination.
"Whether people can wear a cross or pray with someone should not be something about which courts and tribunals have to rule."
Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights group Liberty, said: "Today's judgement is an excellent result for equal treatment, religious freedom and common sense.
"Nadia Eweida wasn't hurting anyone and was perfectly capable of doing her job whilst wearing a small cross.
"British courts lost their way in her case and Strasbourg has actually acted more in keeping with our traditions of tolerance."
what do you think?
Good luck to her! We see now on a regular basis were we as british people are not allowed to wear or carry out normal day-to-day things in fear of upsetting other religious or immigrant groups. This is OUR country after all.
I have the feeling that other religions were not that bothered. But we need to remenber that it wasn't focused on Christians but on all religions equally. It just happened that the test case was brought by a Christian
This has been in our local news for quite a while.very glad she won.very slowly we in britain are losing our heritage and traditions " our britishness" .were a christian country and you should be able to wear a christian symbol if you so wish.why do the authorities want to ban such things? Who the hell does it offend so badly?
Shaun I agree 100% - the pendulum has swung too far thanks to the so called 'politically correct' lobby
Shaun. I get heartily sick of PC white people telling me how some of my words,actions or symbols may offend various other ethnic minorities. Why not allow these groups to speak for themselves and we will find that In many cases they are not bothered in the slightest and are a damned site more tolerant than many council jobsworths
I think it offends very few people Shaun and agree that it seems harmless. But i do feel that you equate being british woth being Christian and i don't see it like that. I think it began as an attempt to make workplaces secular but has been a bit of a waste of money and energy
No you got that very wrong louisa i see britishness as all races and religion. Its more an issue of freedom of expression.im pagan yet i will wear a st christopher or a cross round my neck.
James R McCulloch
I know what people like you are saying. I like you wonder what is happening to this once fine country. Perhaps this will help.... " You hear of wars and rumours of wars, but you know not the hearts of men in your own country"
Robert Mark Ferry
Why do so many places open for food on Christmas day, a religious day and Christians are expected to work, if it was another faiths religious day and you tried to make them work then your in trouble
And so are the pagans, after all dec 25th is the roman pagan feast of sol invictus but it was used to represent the birth of jesus. Who was born in july.
Hindus and Muslims and other faiths do have to work through their religious festivals and holy days Robert. Historically our public holidays are Christian but people of other faiths have to apply for annual leave.
Actually most of our christian bank holidays are pagan in origin.louisa
I think it is significant that an employment tribunal, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court in the UK all found against her. It just shows how much Politcal correctness has infected the institutions in this country.At least it lets us all know just whose side they are on.
Well said Dave
I personall y don't mind people wearing this sort of symbol dave, However i do understand the notion that workplaces should be secular and you leave the outward show of religious belief in the changing room or at home, thus making all equal and secular. I think that, rather than politicall correctness was the driving force behind this issue. BTW hope you had a good break last week? x
Hi Louisa. Neither do I princess. So many ethnic minorities aren't bothered in the slightest and it is usually white jobsworths who continually tell us how these minorities are offended. Hols were fine. Glad to get back to dry out.
Im fed up with being made to be so politically correct.i see this news item didnt mention the christian hoteliers who refused to let two homosexial men stay .what happened to an englishmens home is his castle.peaple being told what pendents they should wear.the scouts and brownies changing their oath.
But that was their business, not their castle Shaun. They still need to obey the law. If you cannot accept h omosexual couples, don't run a B&B. You have done work with cab, haven't you. How would you feel about your collesgues refusing to help a benefits enquiry from a same sex couple?
They own their business louisa. They should be allowed to run it how they please.though i dont believe in the hoteliers beliefs.
Owning their business doesn't make any difference. It's a business and as such, needs to be law abiding and seperate from their personal beliefs. They make money out of their business
Great news! However I fear a precedent has now been created and other religions in our Multicultural Society may well now jump on the band wagon! I hope the "powers that be" can distinguish between that which is cultural and that which is truly religious. This is Great Britain not a sub-set of Pakistan!
But if this lady is allowed to (quite correctly) wear her cross, what's wrong with adherents of other religions being allowed to do the seem. Personally, as an atheist, I wouldn't want to wear a badge saying " I don't believe in God" but if religious people want to make public their beliefs i don't really mind
Some things are just being spoilt, girls should nt have been allowed in the scouts.you cant even call a homosexaul person g.a.ye anymore at least orange doesnt allow it.as ive said before i dont know who these things offend so badly.now ive just discovered you cant e ven use the word homosexial .lol ridiculous
I've never met a h omosexual who objected to the words g ay ot h omosexual Shaun. That's just done by orange because of abusive posters ( h eterosexual or closeted!) who use these words as an insult
They should be proud to say their g ay.cant make out why someone should use the term as either an insult or take it as an insult.
Thank goodness the ECHR came up with a sensible decision just for once. Could you imagine if it had gone the other way?What with1 million muslims in the capital alone who could be forced to comply with these faceless anti religon zealots, The muslim religon is a hundred fold more stronger and demanding than christianity and being told how to dress etc even by Co.rules etc. could lead to riots and bloodshed, the thought is terrifying.Company PC nuts should specify if they want their edicts to be inclusive for everyone.But of course they will never do that..........all they want is divisveness.
All the Koran says is that women should be modest. It does not say their faces should be covered etc. It is more a "Cultural" interpretation rather than a Regileous interpretation
Michael you are correct in commenting that this is a cultural practice. Saw a woman with a metal mask the other day - it was horrendous. Not all muslims go along with this cruel nonsense. Russell you sound pretty divisive yourself!
A metal mask? Crazy.
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With the cases concerning Christianity, things are not quite as represented here. Militant atheists are on the march and Number 1 on their hate list is Christianity. Led by the fanatical Professor Dawkins, you can be sure they`ll be back.
Militant atheists? Good, someones got to keep the. Militant creationists at bay
Creationists ? Have you ever met one ? Do you even know of one who`d put his head in a noose for the idea ?
I've not met one personally but ive been on the receiving end of one . Over a youtube video comment about mars curiosity rover
As an atheist, i do not hate Christians or those who adhere to any other religion. I have no objection to religious symbols being worn discreetly. I knoew many many atheists and none of them are the militant nutters you describe pj .However i am often patronised by religious people.
I am not a devout believer but I prefer to go along with it rather than call myself an atheist. Dawkins is a nut case, " to be brought up as a child by catholics is worse that being subject to sexual abuse ". Sadly his following is growing particularly among the intelligensia. You`ll stay away from him, I hope.
I have read a bit of Dawkins and he is a bit od=f a zealot, but i agree with some of it, though i would be kinder towards those who have religious beliefs. As for the Catholic upbringing.I had one and although culturally i feel very attached and fond of Catholicism, i never in all my life, even as a child, believed in God. I had a kind family but i know many whose Catholic upbringing was harsh, as was their education.
Well done Nadia,I wear a silver cross all the time where I work. Pity the other cases did not have the same decision
I have no objection to anyone wearing a coss or other religious symbol. The other cases were very different and i am very pleased that their discriminatory practice was not condoned. If you are a professional you do your job for everyone, not just those whose lifestyles you approve of
Read Tims post. Then see what you think
I have read that post and do not agree that a muslim worker or b&b owner would have been treated ant differently Diane. Nothing in Tim's post makes me feel any differently. Do you honstly think i haven't thought through my views and would be swayed by that?
How does one offer Sex Therapy to same sex couples ??? Who is qualified to do it ?
You become a trained counsellor with a recognised qualification.
We have many friends of differing religious and/or cultural backgrounds who have remarked on more than one occasion how so very patronised they are made to feel by the 'usual suspects' jobsworths drivel.
I wonder how many comments will be removed on this comments page for not being politically correct.????????????????
So much for freedom of speech.
The others lost their cases though. I'm pleased about the lady who won the right to wear her cross but the man who refused counselling to certain couples on the grounds of conscience lost. As will the Christian guest house owners who refused a double room. But supposing the counsellor was a Muslim? Or the bed and breakfast owners? I think you would find a far different outcome. This whole thing stinks and people who follow the Christian faith, which is still this nations religion, are being discriminated against more and more. It will only be a matter of time before a new labour government and sharia law coming in to certain local councils and parishes.
Well said Tim
Around 6 years ago I was the manager of a store, and my regional manager employed an assistant manager for me. Both were immigrants, and the guy who was taken on was useless, and that was the customers view not just mine. It turned out he had the wrong papers for working here and the Home Office wanted to prosecute me as I was his line manager. The company pooped itself and so as not to upset anything foreign and be accused of racism they sacked me and promoted him. That looks great on your CV, they did settle out of court but it just added one more blot on my CV. The PC brigade should feel ashamed, the others should have won their cases too, all too often it's one rule for us and one rule for them, with us coming off worse.
There will be rioting one day because the union jack will only be flown on certain days.