Warning over religious symbols at work

Lancashire businesses are being urged to tread cautiously when enforcing dress codes following the judgments made on religious expression in the workplace concerning British Airways.

Jonathan Holden FORBES

Jonathan Holden, an employment specialist at Forbes Solicitors, which has offices across the county, said of the Nadia Eweida case: “British Airways had a policy that prohibited her from wearing a cross around her neck whilst at work.  She claimed that this was discrimination on grounds of her religion and belief and The European Court of Human Rights agreed with her.

“They found that the wearing of a cross was an expression of her Christian belief and that the uniform policy imposed was not sufficiently justified to be a lawful restriction on Mrs Eweida’s right to express her beliefs.

“Employers will now be required, in many cases, to accommodate reasonable requests in respect of dress code. Failure to ensure that any restriction on the right of religious expression is legitimate and proportionate could end up with employers facing costly Tribunal claims. “An employer can, in certain circumstances enforce a dress code which, by necessity, may restrict the freedom of an individual to express their religious beliefs – but they need to be very careful indeed before taking that step.”