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BA worker won on grounds of freedom of religion

Nadia Eweida returned to work in 2007 after BA changed its uniform policy. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Archive

British Airways employee Nadia Eweida had argued the airline's denial of her wearing a cross contravened articles nine and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibit religious discrimination and allow "freedom of thought, conscience and religion".

Lawyers for the Government, which contested the claim, argued her rights were only protected in private.

But judges today ruled there had been a violation of article nine (freedom of religion), by five votes to two.

After being sent home in September 2006 for displaying the silver cross around her neck, Ms Eweida returned to work in customer services at Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5 in February 2007 after BA changed its uniform policy on visible items of jewellery.

ECHR: BA corporate image 'unharmed' by cross-wearer

Barrister Adam Wagner, who specialises in human rights, has played down the wider significance of BA worker Nadia Eweida's victory at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR):

He added that the ECHR judgment now means if an employer wants to prevent an employee from wearing a religious symbol for corporate image purposes, it must prove that its image has been negatively affected.

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Cross-wearing worker says Christians are 'pounded on'

BA check-in clerk Nadia Eweida has since been allowed to wear her cross at work. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Archive

Cross-wearing British Airways employee Nadia Eweida, one of four Christians who say they were discriminated against in the workplace, has told Daybreak she is "very hopeful" of a win at the European Court of Human Rights, but is prepared to appeal if the judgment goes against them.

The 60-year-old check-in clerk from London said it was "very unfair" that she was prevented from wearing a visible cross necklace while at work.

Speaking ahead of the 9:00am judgment, Ms Eweida said: "I'm very hopeful of a win ... there is a saying: you get what you ask for. ... If we lose today, there is a possibilty we can appeal."

She also said some employers took advantage of those with Christian faith.

"It's a religion of love, that you turn your cheek," Ms Eweida added. "It's taken as weakness, so you're pounded on."

Today's judgment could shape future equality law

Judges at the European Court of Human Rights will rule today on a landmark case brought by four British Christians.

They claim they have suffered discrimination at work because of their faith.

  • The four argue the actions of their employers contravened articles nine and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibit religious discrimination and allow "freedom of thought, conscience and religion"
  • Government lawyers argue their rights are only protected in private

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Ruling due on test cases involving practicing Christians

Hospital nurse Shirley Chaplin, from Exeter, who also feels she was prevented from wearing a cross visibly around her neck Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Archive
Gary McFarlane, who claims he was sacked for saying that he might not be comfortable in giving sex therapy to homosexual couples Credit: Barry Batchelor/PA Archive
Registrar Lillian Ladele, said she was disciplined for refusing to conduct civil partnership ceremonies for homosexual couples Credit: Johnny Green/PA Archive
Sixty-year-old British Airways employee Nadia Eweida, from London, says she was prevented from wearing a visible cross necklace Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Archive

Judgment expected on test cases in employment law

  • Sixty-year-old British Airways employee Nadia Eweida, from London, says she was prevented from wearing a visible cross necklace
  • Hospital nurse Shirley Chaplin, 57, from Exeter, who also feels she was prevented from wearing a cross visibly around her neck
  • Gary McFarlane, 51, a Bristol marriage counsellor, who claims he was sacked for saying that he might not be comfortable in giving sex therapy to homosexual couples
  • Registrar Lillian Ladele, from London, who said she was disciplined by London's Islington Council for refusing to conduct civil partnership ceremonies for homosexual couples

European Court of Human Rights to give judgment

Nadia Eweida says she was prevented from wearing a visible cross necklace Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Archive

The European Court of Human Rights will give judgment today on cases involving four Christians who say they were discriminated against in the workplace.

Sixty-year-old British Airways employee Nadia Eweida, from London, says she was prevented from wearing a visible cross necklace.

It is hoped that success today will lead to an overhaul of the Equality Act and other diversity legislation.

Judgment will take place at 0900 UK time.

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