Crucifix employee goes to court

By Ian Dunt

The woman banned from wearing a small crucifix while working for British Airways takes her case to the court of appeal today.

Nadia Eweida, a check-in worker, was suspended in October 2006 for refusing to remove a small cross around her neck.

BA later changed their uniform policy to allow religious symbols but refused to admit the original policy was unlawful or to pay Ms Eweida for the three months she was prevented from working.

The appeal is against the Employment Appeal Tribunal’s judgment of November 2008, which found that banning Ms Eweida from wearing a cross was not discriminatory because Christians “generally” do not consider wearing a cross a requirement of their religion.

Because her case does not qualify for legal aid, Liberty’s in-house legal team will be representing Ms Eweida.

“This woman’s cross was as important to her as a turban or hijab to other people in our country,” said Corinna Ferguson, legal officer for the group.

“British Airways sensibly changed the policy but unfortunately didn’t concede the case which has left a dangerous precedent in the case law what we intend to overturn.

“All that we are seeking for everyone in Britain is freedom of thought, conscience and religion and equal treatment under the law.”

Liberty intends to argue that employers should only interfere with personal expressions of religion or belief where it is necessary and proportionate, for example to protect the rights of others.

Ms Eweida found herself with considerable support after the suspension, including from Tony Blair, Vince Cable and Anne Widdecombe.