British Airways have banned a female check-in worker from wearing a cross over her uniform stating this breached their uniform code. The employee, Mrs Eweida, is claiming she was 'forced' to take unpaid leave after she refused to remove her cross or conceal it beneath a cravat, and she has been subjected to religious discrimination by the airline.
The airline's uniform policy states employees' can wear jewellery underneath their uniform and they have stressed that the rule applies to all jewellery and religious symbols worn on a chain, and is not specific to the Christian cross. The airline allows other religious symbols, such as hijabs and turbans, to be worn as it is not practical for staff to conceal these beneath their uniform. However, they maintain this is an issue of practicality and not discrimination between faiths.
Mrs Eweida sought permission to wear the Christian symbol in September and was refused. She was then sent home for 'failure to comply with a reasonable request' and has chosen to remain on unpaid leave since. Her first appeal against the decision has failed. She has declined to take an alternative non-uniformed post offered to her by the airline, which would allow her to openly wear her cross.
A total of 94 MPs have signed a Parliamentary motion condemning BA for this decision. Under mounting pressure BA have announced they will review their uniform policy 'in light of public debate', and assess which symbols of faith can be worn openly while remaining consistent with the "British Airways brand" and compliant with employment legislation. It is thought Mrs Eweida will pursue the second appeal against the decision that she is entitled to under BA's' internal disciplinary procedure.