Wednesday 20 March 2019

Airline employee who won landmark case over wearing cross at work plans fresh legal action

Nadia Eweida won a claim of religious discrimination against BA
Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire
Nadia Eweida won a claim of religious discrimination against BA Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Jack Hardy

A British Airways employee who won a landmark legal battle to wear a cross at work plans to launch fresh action against the airline.

Nadia Eweida won a claim of religious discrimination against BA in the European Court of Human Rights in 2013 after being sent home for wearing a silver crucifix around her neck.

She had been locked in the highly publicised legal dispute since falling foul of a new employee clothing policy in 2006 - a case that ignited debate, but was rejected by the British courts.

The airport check-in worker, who still works for BA, alleges the publicity singled her out for mistreatment when she returned to her role in 2007.

In a new employment tribunal claim, airline managers are accused of victimisation, harassment and punishing the 67-year-old for whistleblowing.

It is alleged they treated her rudely and harshly in the wake of the furore.

Among the reported episodes was an incident in March 2017 when Ms Eweida was denied a break after experiencing strain on her eyes in the wake of an operation.

She was instead told to cover a flight gate - and given a written warning by management when she refused to do so.

A further uniform policy introduced in July 2017 required female staff to tuck their cravat in their blouse, meaning Ms Eweida had to wear her crucifix on top of her cravat - a move she claimed was designed to affect her.

She hopes to win compensation, a declaration and recommendations from her claim, which is due before Watford Tribunal Hearing Centre on October 26 for a preliminary hearing.

Ms Eweida, who wants to remain at the company, told the Press Association: "It is victimisation over the years as a result of the cross case; they have never forgiven me and they never let it go.

"I want my day in court. For me, it's for my self-respect."

She added: "It is my heartfelt wish that a positive outcome for this case will set a precedent ensuring the protection of others in the workplace."

Ms Eweida has launched a CrowdJustice fundraising page in an effort to get £30,000 to help cover her legal costs.

BA said: "We strongly deny all of these claims. We work hard to ensure that all 42,000 staff who work for British Airways are treated fairly and consistently.

"We actively encourage staff to report concerns that they have about safety or their wellbeing, so that these can be discussed with managers."

Press Association

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