BA found guilty of Human Rights breach by ECHR

23 January 2013

In a recent European Court of Human Rights decision the court found that BA had breached the rights of its employee Nadia Eweida under Article 9) of the Convention.

A British Airways employee suffered discrimination at work over her Christian beliefs, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled.

BA employee Nadia Eweida was asked to leave her job in 2006 after refusing to stop wearing a cross which was displayed visibly over her uniform. Ms Eweida, and three other claimants who had all lost their claims before the Employment Tribunal, made individual applications to the European Court of Human Rights where their cases were heard together.

Each claimed breaches of articles 9) and 14) of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protected their rights to “freedom of thought, conscience and religion” and which prohibit religious discrimination.

In the case of Ms Eweida, the court said BA had not struck a fair balance between her religious beliefs and the company's wish to "project a certain corporate image." It was held that her rights had been violated under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In the three other cases Judges ruled that the rights of three other Christians had not been violated by their employers.

Shirley Chaplin, a nurse, was transferred to a desk job by Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust Hospital for failing to remove a confirmation crucifix on a small chain which she had worn to work for 30 years.  In this case the court found that health and safety matters outweighed her religious rights.

A marriage counsellor, Gary McFarlane was dismissed by 'Relate' after stating he may object to giving sex therapy advice to gay couples.  The court said that clients of the service where he was employed could not be allocated in accordance with their sexual orientation.

Registrar Lillian Ladele was disciplined after she refused to conduct same-sex civil partnership ceremonies. In this instance, the ECHR judges said the council's action was legitimate as it was obliged to consider the rights of same-sex couples.

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