British Airways Banned Employee from Wearing a Cross, ECHR Confirms a Violation of Freedom of Religion

Country: United Kingdom

Date of incident: January 15, 2013

(October 2006 - January 2013)In October 2006 an employee, Ms Eweida, was banned from wearing a cross on a necklace by British Airways, UK. Court ruling in January 2008 upheld prohibition for Christians, but not for other religions' symbols. On January 15th, 2013, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Ms Eweida's rights had been violated.

Nadia Eweida (55), a Coptic Christian whose father is Egyptian and mother English, working for seven years at British Airways as a luggage inspector, was suspended from work for two weeks without pay because of wearing a cross. The airline's uniform code states that staff must not wear visible jewellery or other 'adornments' while on duty without permission from management. It makes exceptions for Muslim and Sikh minorities by allowing them to wear hijabs and turbans. Eweida therefore claims to have the right to express her religious conviction by wearing a little cross. Her case is being supported by her union, the TGWU, and she has hired Paul Diamond, a barrister specialising in religious affairs, to represent her at her employment tribunal. Moreover, a petition of support has been signed by more than 400 fellow workers. Inayat Bunglawala, spokesman for the Muslim Counsil of Britain, said that wearing a cross was not "intimidating or offensive." He added: "Our position is that we do not find the wearing of the crucifix in any way offensive. It is an expression of private religious belief and we do respect that in the same way that we respect the right of a Muslim women to wear the Niqab." Eweida won the first appeal, lost however the second one, please view the following article, as of January 16th, 08. This case was decided by the European Court of Human Rights on January 15th, 2013: Ms Eweida rights under Article 9 had been insufficiently protected by the UK.  Reports: Summary of this and related cases by the Observatory Read more on the debate in 2008: