12 February 2010

Religious discrimination in the spotlight: Eweida v BA


The case of Eweida v British Airways has been in and out of the press in the past months. It has attracted a lot of attention but other than among Daily Mail readers very little sympathy. One cannot help wondering whether, if the claimant was not a Christian but a Muslim or a Jew there might have been a bit more interest in the outcome. Regrettably Christian-bashing is a national sport in this country but everyone tip-toes around other religions for fear of being politically incorrect. Moving on swiftly… What of the decision of the Court of Appeal that BA was justified in asking Ms Eweida to remove her crucifix or hide it? The learned judges decided that BA’s dress code was appropriate and that their actions were not motivated by religious discrimination. BA’s policy was a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. The real message from this decision is that employers who have a well-drafted and policed dress code stand a good chance of being able to enforce it. This will assume even greater prominence with the coming into force of the new Equality Act which will give employees even greater rights against discrimination. Employers should be getting ready now for the next deluge of litigation and fending it off at the pass with good policies and practices.