A British Airways employee who sued her employer after it required her to cover up a cross necklace while she worked has lost her religious discrimination lawsuit, WorldNetDaily reports.
Nadia Eweida, a check-in worker at Heathrow Airport and a Coptic Christian, was sent home after refusing to remove the cross necklace. British Airways said the necklace was a violation of the company’s dress code.
Eweida charged her employer with religious discrimination, saying that the company allowed religious employees like those adhering to Islam or Hinduism to wear faith-related clothing, jewelry, religious markings, or other items.
The Reading Employment Tribunal had previously ruled against Eweida, but she appealed the decision.
The 56-year-old Eweida, who was placed on unpaid leave, reacted to the ruling, saying, “I'm very disappointed. I'm speechless really because I went to the tribunal to seek justice. But the judge has given way for BA to have a victory on imposing their will on all their staff.”
Eweida was represented by an attorney from the Alliance Defense Fund. Chief Counsel Benjamin Bull issued a statement responding to the decision.
"Christian employees should not be singled out for discrimination. This decision will be appealed," he said. "According to British Airways, it's OK for employees to wear a symbol of their faith unless it's a Christian cross. The airline took no action against employees of other religions who wore jewelry or symbols of their religion. That type of intolerance is inconsistent with the values of civilized communities around the world."
The court ruled that the airline can prohibit Eweida from visibly wearing the cross. It held that other types of religious symbols, such as turbans, bangles, and other religious markings, are acceptable because they cannot be concealed.
In a statement, British Airways said: "We have always maintained that our uniform policy did not discriminate against Christians, and 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.”
British Airways noted Eweida’s eight years of employment with the company, saying she “continues to be a valued member of our staff.”