Strawberry Hill woman's cross fight in European Court
A Christian fighting for the right to wear religious symbols within the work place had her case heard in the European Court of Human Rights this week.
Nadia Eweida’s appearance was the culmination of her six year battle against British Airways, which banned her from wearing a Christian cross at work.
The 61-year-old from Strawberry Hill was sent home from work for refusing to remove her cross in 2006 when working as a check-in operator.
She went without pay for five months, but finally returned to work in February 2007 when the company’s policy was changed to permit the display of religious and charity symbols, with the cross and the Star of David given immediate authorisation.
Miss Eweida’s case on Tuesday, September 4, was one of four heard by the European Court of Human Rights, in Strasbourg, on the admissibility and merits brought by practising Christians who complain that UK law did not sufficiently protect their rights to freedom of religion and freedom from discrimination at work.
On behalf of the UK Government, Mr James Eadie QC put forward a case in defence of all four cases.
Mr Eadie said: “In a free and democratic society everyone has the right to express and to manifest their beliefs.”
However, he said employees’ rights may have to be limited to protect the rights of others.
Mr James Dingemans QC was representing Miss Eweida. In his submission he said Miss Eweida’s employer had allowed other religious symbols to be worn.
He added: “It was indisputable that wearing the cross visibly did not have any detrimental effect on Miss Eweida’s ability to do her job.”
Speaking from Strasbourg, Miss Eweida, said she was very optimistic about the outcome of the case.
She said: “I’m very happy with the way things went and it was a wonderful day. I’m very satisfied with our argument.”
Judges will take several weeks to deliberate over the case.