BA accused of harassment by worker wearing a crucifix

In a new tribunal a British Airways worker has won a landmark legal claim for the right to wear a crucifix at work. She has now started a new claim against British Airways.

Nadia Eweida was sent home for continuing to wear her silver crucifix around her neck. She took her claim of religious discrimination all the way to the European Court of Human Rights in 2013.

Ms Eweida's case began back in 2006 when she came up against the airline's new clothing policy which prohibited employees from wearing visible jewellery around the neck. Her case was rejected in British Courts but she won it in the European Court of Human Rights.

The check-in worker found that when she returned to work she was singled out for mistreatment. She accuses her managers of harassment, victimisation and whistleblowing, stating that she has been treated harshly and rudely. Ms Eweida stated that the airline company had never forgiven her for taking them to court over the issue of her cross. They have never forgiven her and would never let it go.

Ms Eweida went on to say that she wanted her day in court, it was for her own self-respect. She hoped that there would be a positive outcome for the case, with a precedent being set to protect others in the workplace.

British Airways stated that they made exceptions only for religious items which were regarded as a 'mandatory requirement' and could not be concealed. While Ms Eweida was a devout Christian, she was not permitted to wear her crucifix while working in a position where it could be seen by the public.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that a fair balance had not been reached between Ms Eweida's desire to wear her crucifix and the company's wish to protect and project a certain image. Courts in the UK had focused too much on the company's policy and breached Ms Eweida's human right to manifest her religion.

In the new tribunal claim Ms Eweida accuses British Airways of harassment, victimisation, and appear to be punishing her for whistleblowing. Ms Eweida stated that she was denied a break after recovering from an eye operation. She was asked to cover a flight gate, which she refused because of the discomfort to her eyes. She was given a written warning.

A new policy which was brought into effect in 2017 requires that female staff tuck a cravat inside their blouse. This would mean that she would have to wear her crucifix on top of her cravat. Ms Eweida feels that this was introduced to put further pressure on her.

The preliminary hearing for the new claim takes place in October and Ms Eweida has used a crowdfunding page to help raise the £30,000 she needs for fees.

British Airways stated that they strongly deny all of the claims. The company insists that they work hard to ensure that every staff member is treated consistently and fairly at all times. There are over 42,000 employees in the company.

British Airways concluded by saying that they actively encourage their employees to report any concerns about well-being and safety. The company always encourages staff to discuss concerns with relevant managers.

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