The Court of Appeal has confirmed, in the case of Eweida v British Airways, that BA's uniform policy, which required an employee to remove or conceal her cross, did not amount to indirect discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief.

Upholding the decision of the EAT, the Court of Appeal held that to succeed with a claim of indirect discrimination it is necessary to show that a provision, criterion or practice disadvantages a group and it is not sufficient to show only that a single individual is subjected to a detriment. The employment tribunal had found that only Mrs Eweida felt disadvantaged by the policy and therefore her claim failed. The Court of Appeal went on to say that, even if her argument had succeeded, any disadvantages suffered by Mrs Eweida alone could have been justified and so her claim would have failed.

Impact on employers

  • A perceived disadvantage to a single employee will not be sufficient to challenge a policy.
  • The facts of the case indicate that where an employer faces complaints about a dress code that are based on religion, it will be possible to distinguish between the wearing of items that are a mandatory requirement of a particular faith and those which amount to a personal preference.