An employer's dress policy was not unlawful discrimination against Christians where it prohibited the overt wearing of jewellery unless an employee's religion required it, it was impossible to conceal and management approval was given.
According to the tribunal:
- there was no direct discrimination against Christians because non-Christians overtly wearing jewellery would have been treated in the same way
- there was no indirect discrimination because Christians were not put at a disadvantage, as it is not a requirement of the Christian faith to openly wear a cross.
This decision should be treated with caution; there appears to have been no expert evidence on Christian practice or belief and no consideration as to whether, if significant numbers of Christians wish to wear a cross openly, this could establish disadvantage.
Had the tribunal found there to be a disadvantage, the employee would have won the case as the tribunal did not consider the policy to be justified given that it failed to distinguish religious symbols from other jewellery. Employers should ensure they have convincing justifications for restrictions on appearance. (Eweida v British Airways plc, ET).