ADF: Court says OK to discrimination by British Airways

ADF-allied attorney will appeal lawsuit on behalf of Christian employee subjected to discriminatory policy not applied to employees of other religions
Tuesday, January 08, 2008

LONDON — An Alliance Defense Fund allied attorney will appeal a court ruling Tuesday that concluded British Airways did not engage in unlawful discrimination when it suspended an employee for refusing to hide a cross necklace while at work.  ADF provided funding for employee Nadia Eweida’s claim against the airline for discriminating against her but not employees of other religious faiths.  Barrister Paul Diamond, an ADF-allied attorney, represented Eweida in court.

“Christian employees should not be singled out for discrimination.  This decision will be appealed,” said ADF Chief Counsel Benjamin Bull.  “According to British Airways, it’s okay 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.”

In October 2006, Eweida, a Christian who works at the British Airways check-in counter at Heathrow Airport in London, was told that she must either cover up or remove a necklace depicting a small cross.  Eweida was placed on unpaid leave when she refused to conceal the cross.  British Airways allows employees of other religions, such as Islam and Hinduism, to wear faith-related items, including clothing, jewelry, and religious markings.

Eweida lost her initial suit against the company but won an injunction on appeal in the Reading Employment Tribunal.  However, in Tuesday’s ruling in the case, Eweida v. British Airways, the court ruled the airline can continue to prohibit Eweida from visibly wearing her cross.  The court concluded that other types of religious symbols, such as turbans, bangles, and other religious markings are unable to be concealed and are therefore acceptable.

“No Christian should be forced to hide her faith in the workplace, particularly when a double-standard exists targeting only Christians for discriminatory treatment.  This case should be of particular interest to the American customers of British Airways who understand and value religious liberty,” said Bull.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.