Court stands behind cross necklace prohibitionFeb 18th, 2010 | By admin | Category: Signs of the Times (click on article name)
Court stands behind cross necklace prohibition
‘It is not unthinkable that a blanket ban may sometimes be the only fair solution’
Posted: February 13, 2010
12:10 am Eastern
A court in the United Kingdom has concluded British Airways reasonably can ban Christian employees from wearing cross necklaces.
Nadia Eweida, 58, from southwest London, had asked three judges to overturn a decision by the Employment Appeal Tribunal and confirm the airline decision subjected her to indirect religion or belief discrimination.
But according to the Christian Institute, Justice Sedley of the Court of Appeal today ruled the airline was allowed to take those actions.
“This case has perhaps illustrated some of the problems which can arise when an individual asserts that a provision, criterion or practice adopted by an employer conflicts with beliefs which they hold but which may not only not be shared but may be opposed by others in the workforce,” the judge wrote, according to the Institute.
“It is not unthinkable that a blanket ban may sometimes be the only solution.”
Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, disagreed.
“The news that Nadia Eweida’s appeal has failed is a sad blow both to her personally, and the cause of religious liberties and freedoms,” he said.
The employment tribunal previously concluded the ban on cross necklaces was not discriminatory because Christians don’t all consider wearing a cross to be required.
But Barrister Neil Addison, national director of the U.K.’s Thomas More Legal Center, said the ruling impossibly conflicted with another high court ruling.
Cross banned by FedEx
In that decision, involving the Sikh religion, it was held that “prohibiting a Sikh school girl from wearing a ‘kara’ bracelet was religious discrimination.”
As WND reported, the case began in 2006 when Eweida was sent home from work after refusing to remove the cross because BA officials claimed it violated their dress code.
Eweida’s legal counsel said Eweida just wished “to wear a small, plain, silver cross visibly as a manifestation of her beliefs and personal expression of her faith.”
British Airways, she added, “permitted adherents of other religious faiths to express their beliefs through certain visible symbols, such as the Sikh bracelet, the Jewish skull cap and the Muslim hijab.”
The airline argued that wearing the cross was Eweida’s choice but was not required of her Christian faith.
Ingrid Simler, the legal counselor for the airline, said, “Ms. Eweida reflects her religious belief in a way similar to the way people wear symbols for … gay rights – that it reflects their core beliefs but it has nothing to do with religion.”
Eweida, a Heathrow check-in worker who is a Coptic Christian, later was returned to her position when the airline loosened its regulations. But the appeal was pursued when the Reading Employment Tribunal concluded the airline was allowed to ban a cross pendant that is visible.
The tribunal’s opinion said other symbols such as turbans and bangles cannot be concealed and so are allowed.
Sedley ruled such discrimination was not necessarily wrong.
WND reported last week when a similar situation arose in the United States.
A FedEx employee had been ordered onto an “administrative leave” for wearing a Christian cross to work. She later was told she would be allowed to report for work.
Lisa Graves told WND her case developed in the Springfield, Mo., region where the company has several stores. She said she was approached by her supervisor and given the option of hiding the cross or being placed on leave for a dress code violation.
She’s worked in the Springfield office for more than two years, and explained she loves her work but loves her Christian beliefs even more.
“To hide that would be a conscious act of denying Christ and my faith,” she said.
A company spokeswoman told WND the company had decided to allow the cross if it was on a shorter chain so that it would be against Graves’ throat, rather than in front of her uniform shirt.