16 Jan 2013

Rights case won by Christian employee

5:25 am on 16 January 2013

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that a British Airways employee suffered discrimination at work over her Christian beliefs.

Judges ruled Nadia Eweida's rights were violated under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Ms Eweida, 60, a Coptic Christian from Twickenham, took her case to the European Court of Human Rights after BA made her stop wearing a white gold cross.

Prime Minister David Cameron said he was delighted that the "principle of wearing religious symbols at work has been upheld".

However, the judges ruled that the rights of three other Christians had not been violated by their employers.

The other cases involved: nurse Shirley Chaplin, 57, whose employer also stopped her wearing necklaces with a cross; Gary McFarlane, 51, a marriage counsellor sacked after saying he might object to giving sex therapy advice to gay couples; and registrar Lillian Ladele, who was disciplined after she refused to conduct same-sex civil partnership ceremonies.

The BBC reports they made individual applications to the ECHR after losing separate employment tribunals but the cases were heard together.

A BBC religious affairs correspondent said the judgements suggested that although people are entitled to hold religious views, that right is severely limited in the workplace when it comes into conflict with the rights of other people.

The correspondent said the judgement also gave considerable discretion to employers to set reasonable policies and then insist that employees follow them whatever their religious beliefs.