5 June 2015: Religious Garments at Work: In January 2013 we reported on Eweida v BA concerning the right of cabin crew on flights to wear a crucifix with their uniform. The European Court of Justice said yes to crucifixes with uniforms, subject to health and safety concerns.
In Begum v Pedagogy Auras UK Ltd t/a Barley Lane Montessori Day Nursery reported this week, the EAT held that the limit on the length of a garment that a Muslim nursery assistant could wear to work was not discriminatory.
Ms Begum, wished to wear jilbab for religious reasons, which would cover her from neck to toe. At her job interview, the nursery felt the jilbab could be a tripping hazard, and asked her if she could wear something a little shorter to work instead.
Ms Begum complained of discrimination on the Protected Characteristic of Religious Belief. However the EAT upheld the decision that the ‘provision, criterion or practice’ in relation to dress did not put Muslim women at a disadvantage, because an ankle-length jilbab would have been acceptable. No religious requirement to wear the full jilbab was found. If the requirement had been discriminatory, it could have been justified in any event on grounds of safety.
In the Begum case, the nursery had sought to accommodate her dress requirements. One wonders how (say) a chain of coffee shops requiring its staff to wear T-shirt uniforms and jeans would deal with a similar situation.
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