UK. Airline – Religious Discrimination

Eweida v BA PLC [2009] ICR 303BA’s uniform policy prohibited the visible wearing of jewellery or personal items unless the wearing of the item was scripturally mandated and could not be concealed under the uniform. Even in the case of this exception, permission from management was required. E, a practising Christian, was sent home after she insisted on wearing a plain silver cross over her uniform. She remained off work for 4 weeks. She was not paid during that period. BA then changed its policy and permitted staff to display a faith or charity symbol with their uniform, provided that they first obtained management’s permission. E appealed against a tribunal’s decision that BA’s previous policy did not put Christians at a particular disadvantage compared to other persons. The EAT dismissed the appeal. The protection afforded those with a religious or philosophical belief was broad. That belief might be intensively personal and subjective. It was not a legal requirement that that belief is shared by others or mandated y an established religion. A provision may amount to indirect discrimination of it adversely affected a group, even if they complied with it. The strongly held view amongst some staff that they should be allowed to openly wear jewellery was not confined to those who held a religious beliefs. The law required E to establish that the provision disadvantaged a particular group. She had not established that there were others who, though they complied with BA’s policy, objected to having to do so on religious grounds.

Leave a Comment