BA employee loses her case for discrimination

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The Independent Online

A British Airways employee has lost her case claiming religious discrimination over the airline's decision in 2006 to ban her from wearing a small cross on a necklace to work.

Nadia Eweida, 56, hit the headlines when she took BA to an employment tribunal claiming it effectively discriminated against Christians because they were not allowed to wear religious jewellery while Muslims were allowed to wear hijabs and Sikhs to wear bangles.

After a number of rows about religious clothing in 2006 including the use of the veil after Jack Straw challenged Muslim constituents to show their faces during MPs' surgeries BA backed down and changed its policy to allow all religious symbols to be worn.

But last night Ms Eweida said she had lost her discrimination case. "I'm very disappointed," she said. "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."

When the case was first highlighted, the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, condemned the airline. "British Airways needs to look again at this decision and to look at the history of the country it represents, whose culture, laws, heritage and tradition owes so much to the very same symbol it would ban," he said.

At the 2006 CBI conference, BA's chairman, Martin Broughton, accused the Government including Mr Straw of encouraging a "chorus of abuse" over the case, and asking if that was fair "[given] that the police, the Army and other government uniformed staff have an identical policy to BA".

But Tony Blair, then Prime Minister, said: "Look, Martin, do you want my really frank advice on this? One of the things I learned in politics is that there are some battles really, really worth fighting, and there are battles really, really not worth fighting. What I would say to you on that is, get yourself on the right side of the line on that one."

Ms Eweida said last night she would return to work this week wearing the cross.