In Farrah -v- Global Luggage Co Ltd 2012 the EAT held that an employer who forced a Muslim employee who wore a headscarf to resign because it wanted to maintain a “trendy” image was liable for unfair dismissal.
The employee worked part-time in both the Oxford Street and Piccadilly branches of Global Luggage. On 8 October 2011 she wore a headscarf to work. The day after this, she was moved to the Oxford Street branch (which was considered to cater to a lower class of customers than the Piccadilly store). On 4 December 2011 she took an extended lunch break of two hours (instead of one). On 15 December 2011 she was called to a private meeting where she was confronted about the extended lunch break. The tribunal noted that by this stage the employer "had already decided to dismiss the claimant by one means or another because she had carried on wearing a headscarf at the Oxford Street store and they did not like this". She was given two options: either to resign immediately and be paid her wages until January 2012 or to go through a formal procedure where she would be invited to an official meeting and disciplined but would still be dismissed in January by reason of redundancy and without a reference.
The Employment Tribunal upheld the employee’s claim for constructive unfair dismissal, holding that the reason for the decision was both illegitimate and discriminatory, i.e. the Claimant wearing a headscarf to work. However, they rejected her claim for direct discrimination, regretting that she had brought a direct rather than an indirect claim. Had she claimed for indirect discrimination, the provision, criteria or practice would have been the requirement not to wear a headscarf. This would have been more difficult for a Muslim woman to comply with than a non-Muslim woman. In the Tribunal’s opinion, it was the headscarf and not the employee’s Muslim faith to which the employer objected.