DETERMINED as ever to prove that she was a victim of “religious descrimination”, British Airways employee and all-round pain-in-the-arse Nadia Eweida says she is planning to take her case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
Eweida, you will recall, was sent home from work in September 2006 after she refused to abide by the airline’s then dress code which required employees to keep religious symbols covered. She insisted on displaying a cross.
Eweida was able to return to work in 2007 after BA changed its uniform policy. Now she is hoping that the ECHR will rule that she was the victim of “religious discrimination”. She is also seeking “just satisfaction” for lost wages.
However, it may be some time before Miss Eweida hears if her case has been accepted.
I have been given to understand that it will take four to six months before I hear whether my case will be accepted and heard.
Earlier this year the Court of Appeal upheld a decision by an Employment Appeal Tribunal which found that she was not a victim of religious discrimination. More to the point, it decided that she was an insensitive troublemaker, whose attitude and behaviour towards colleagues had prompted a number of complaints.
The tribunal heard that Eweida had foisted religious materials upon fellow employees, or spoke to colleagues in a judgmental or censorious manner which reflected her beliefs.
One striking example was a report from a gay man that the claimant had told him that it was not too late to be redeemed.
Writing in the Guardian’s Comment is Free, Terry Sanderson, National Secular Society President, said:
Eweida and her Christian activist backers managed to foment such a backlash that BA was forced into changing the policy. Now she can wear her cross visibly, and the airline offered her Â£8,500 compensation and a return to her job, with her point successfully made. But no – she decided to continue pursuing the airline at the industrial tribunal. She was funded in her action by a rightwing religious law firm in Arizona called the Alliance Defence Fund, whose affiliated lawyer was Paul Diamond, a familiar figure in court cases demanding religious privilege.
The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, said:
The news that Nadia Eweida’s appeal has failed is a sad blow both to her personally, and the cause of religious liberties and freedoms.
Earlier this year a group of leading bishops warned that Christian beliefs on marriage, conscience and worship are being ignored by UK laws.
Seven bishops, including Lord Carey, said that the “apparent discrimination” against Christians was deeply concerning and the major political parties need to address the issue.
In the letter to The Sunday Telegraph the group of leading Church of England bishops also expressed concern at the numerous cases of Christians being pushed out of their jobs.
They drew particular attention to Shirley Chaplin, a Christian NHS nurse who was told she could not wear a cross on hospital wards.
The bishops wrote:
This is yet another case in which the religious rights of the Christian community are being treated with disrespect.
We are deeply concerned at the apparent discrimination shown against Christians and we call on the Government to remedy this serious development. In a number of cases, Christian beliefs on marriage, conscience and worship are simply not being upheld. There have been numerous dismissals of practising Christians from employment for reasons that are unacceptable in a civilised country.
Hat tip: Stuart W