British Airways employee wins Crucifix-wearing European court case

British Airways

A British Airways employee banned from wearing a crucifix said she felt "vindicated" after she won her case at the European Court of Human Rights today.

Judges at the Strasbourg-based court ruled that Nadia Eweida had suffered discrimination at work, but it ruled against three other people from Britain who had filed cases claiming their religious rights had been violated.

Eweida, a 60-year-old Coptic Christian, took BA to the European court after British judges had upheld the airline's decision to bar her from wearing a cross.

The Strasbourg-based judges ruled that British judges had given "too much weight" to BA's desire to "project a certain corporate image" and Eweida's right to manifest her religious beliefs had been violated.

Eweida had worked since 1999 as a flight attendant for BA, whose uniform code stipulated that women must wear a high-necked shirt and a cravat, without any visible jewellery.

When the wearing of the cross provoked a dispute in 2006, she was offered an alternative job within the company, which she refused.

She eventually returned to work in February 2007 when BA's policy was changed to permit the display of religious symbols, with the cross and the star of David permitted.

"I'm very happy and very pleased that Christian rights have been vindicated in the UK and Europe," Eweida said from outside her lawyer's offices in London.

"The European court has specifically recognised... that I have suffered anxiety, frustration and distress."

Lawyers for Shirley Chaplin and Gary McFarlane, two of the three other applicants to the court, said they intended to appeal.

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