Muslim nursery worker loses appeal to wear jilbab gown at work because it is a 'tripping hazard'

The Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld a previous ruling, as health and safety policy applies equally

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The Independent Online

A nursery worker has lost her appeal to wear a head-to-toe Islamic jilbab dress to work, after a judge upheld a previous ruling that it was a “tripping hazard”.

Tamanna Begum, a devout Sunni Muslim, was asked during an interview with the manager of Barley Lane Montessori Day Nursery in Ilford, Essex, if she could wear a slightly shorter jilbab that did not cover her feet when at work.

She was, the Mail Online reported, wearing her full-length dress to the 2011 apprenticeship interview, and said she would go home and discuss with her family. She afterwards filed a religious discrimination claim with an employment tribunal.

The nursery told Begum that her floor-length jilbab was a health and safety risk, as the job involves running around outdoors with the children.

In the original complaint to the East London employment tribunal, she said that wearing a shorter gown to work was “against her morals and beliefs.” But the tribunal ruled that the full-length dress was indeed a tripping hazard.

She appealed the ruling at the Employment Appeal Tribunal, who upheld the previous ruling. According to the Telegraph, Judge Daniel Serota QC cited the original tribunal’s ruling: “At no point was she told that she could not wear a jilbab while working at the nursery.”

The request was, he said, “protecting the health and safety of staff and children” -  a policy which applied equally to “staff of all religions.”

Four of the nursery’s 16 staff were Muslim women, who all wore hijabs to work and had, the Mail Online said, time off for religious holidays and prayer time.

A National Secular Society spokesperson said of the case: “The employer made a very reasonable, practical request and we are pleased to see the judge siding with them.”