Page last updated at 16:51 GMT, Tuesday, 14 October 2008 17:51 UK

Christian appeals in BA cross ban

Nadia Eweida
Nadia Eweida is challenging the ruling

A Christian has begun an appeal against a ruling 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 an employment tribunal ruling that she did not suffer religious discrimination.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal heard she was sent home in September 2006 for wearing the silver cross on a chain.

BA has now changed its policy to allow religious symbols to be visibly worn.

The appeal tribunal was told that she was sent home from work after she failed to reach a compromise with managers over the visible display of a plain silver cross on a chain around her neck.

Miss Eweida, who was unpaid during this period, did not return to work until February of the following year, after the airline changed its uniform policy.

There was evidence of other Christians who gave evidence to this tribunal saying they did not have a problem..."
Ingrid Simler QC, for British Airways,

Her case centres on her claim the airline had "ruled for one minority group but not the other".

She had argued that while Muslims and Sikhs had been allowed to wear hijabs and religious Kara bangles respectively, she as a Christian was asked to remove her cross necklace or hide it from sight.

Sarah Moore, counsel for Miss Eweida, told the hearing that the policy put her and other Christians at a "particular disadvantage in comparison to the adherents of other faiths".

But Ingrid Simler QC, for British Airways, said there was no evidence that other Christians had felt the sort of disadvantage that Miss Eweida said she felt as a result of the old policy.

'Lost wages'

"There is evidence from Paul Marriott of the Christian Fellowship of nobody coming to him saying, 'look here this is really unfair, can't you do something to change it'?" she said.

"There was absolutely nothing of that sort, on the contrary, there was evidence of other Christians who gave evidence to this tribunal saying they did not have a problem..."

BA's uniform policy at the time was that personal jewellery and other items, including any item worn for religious reasons, should be concealed by uniform unless otherwise expressly permitted by the company.

The company said in a statement that the uniform policy did not discriminate against Christians.

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

Miss Eweida, a Pentecostal Christian, currently works in customer services at Terminal 5 in Heathrow airport.

She has said she has lost around 3,500 in wages during the three months she was off work.

The tribunal hearing continues.


SEE ALSO
Airport worker loses cross case
08 Jan 08 |  London
Cross ban 'inexplicable' - Straw
23 Nov 06 |  UK Politics

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