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Nadia Eweida loses the next stage of her fight to wear cross

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British Airways employee Nadia Eweida today lost her appeal to wear her cross necklace at her place of work at Heathrow. The result of the internal appeal procedure followed several weeks of suspension without pay. Nadia, a committed Christian, has been a BA employee for seven years, employed as a check-in worker at Heathrow terminal four. She had enjoyed a previously unblemished record until this incident.


In September of this year, a duty manager at Heathrow requested that Nadia remove her cross, which was behind a company cravat. When she refused to remove it, she was suspended from work without pay. BA had said that the airline uniform code did not permit staff to wear visible jewellery whilst on duty without permission from the management.


However, rules drawn up by BA’s ‘diversity team’ and ‘uniform committee’ do permit Sikh employees to wear the traditional iron bangle, even though this could clearly be described as jewellery. BA also permits Muslims to wear headscarves.


Miss Eweida had a petition of support signed by more than 200 fellow employees, and received widespread support from fellow Christians. Nadia believes that the cross is an illustration of her deep faith, indeed, it is a manifestation of her faith, and as such is protected by Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights.


Andrea Minichiello Williams of the Lawyers Christian Fellowship has said, “This application of BA’s uniform policy is clearly inconsistent. We would like to see a level-playing field. BA has allowed some employees freedom to express their faith but Nadia has been denied this right.”


The Archbishop of York, referred to the ‘flawed reasoning’ of BA’s decision, which allows male Sikh staff to wear turbans and female Muslim staff to wear hijabs, the Archbishop derided BA’s statement that the decision was “purely a question of practicality” suggesting that BA’s explanation meant an employee turning up for work with a ‘three foot cross must be allowed to wear it because to hide such a cross under their uniform would be impractical’.


The Archbishop also suggested as Britain’s national airline, the company ought to consider the place of the Christian values represented by the Cross.


The Archbishop said:


“This decision by British Airways is a nonsense and is based on flawed reasoning.”


“The basis for the decision should not be “practicality”, as BA suggests in its statement, but rather whether it impacts on Nadia’s ability to do her job. It is clear that Nadia’s cross does not form an impediment to her ability to carry out her duties at the check in counter.”


“Under BA’s current reasoning, an employee who turned up to work wearing a three foot long cross must be allowed to wear it, because to hide such a cross under their uniform would be impractical. Yet in Nadia’s case a cross of less than three inches is deemed a problem.”


“For me, the Cross is important because it reminds me that God keeps his promises. This horrible instrument of torture now carries something other than the body of that man whom to me is a Saviour and to others is a prophet.”


“Wearing a Cross carries with it not only a symbol of our hopes but also a responsibility to act and to live as Christians. This symbol does not point only upwards but also outwards, it reminds us of our duties not only to God but also to one another.”


“British Airways needs to look again at this decision and to look at the history of the country it represents, whose culture, laws, heritage and tradition owes so much to the very same symbol it would ban.”


Following widespread criticism from both the media and the government, British Airways allowed Nadia to work wearing her cross earlier this year.


In November 2007 Miss Eweida took her case to the Employment Tribunal where she is being represented by Paul Diamond, barrister. She will be arguing that British Airways have discriminated against her right to express her religious belief by initially reprimanding her for wearing her cross, while employees of other faiths were allowed to wear symbols which expressed their religious belief.



For further information contact Andrea Minichiello Williams 0771 2591164



Andrea Minichiello Williams
Christian Legal Centre Director
0771 2591164
http://www.christianlegalcentre.com

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