• Robert Spicer

Religious discrimination: dress codes at work: Muslim dress and Christian cross

RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION

Dress code

Muslim employee

Case Khatoon v The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust (2016) Eq Opp Rev 270:29, Manchester ET

Facts Ms K, a Muslim, was employed by P as a phlebotomist. The employer rejected K’s request to wear full Muslim dress because prevention and control policies required her to be bare below the elbows. She renewed her request to wear a niqab at work, This was refused. She complained of indirect religious discrimination.

Decision 1. The complaint was rejected.

  1. There was a particular disadvantage to Muslim women but the “bare below the elbow” policy was justified because of its success in reducing the spread of infectious diseases.

  2. The refusal to allow Ms K to wear a face veil was justified by the need for her to be able to communicate effectively with other employees and service users.

RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION

Indirect

Instruction not to wear cross

Case Koryl v ETM Group Ltd (2016) Eq Opp Rev 270:28, East London ET

Facts Ms K, a Polish Christian, was employed by ETM in its upmarket restaurant in London. She was told that she could not wear a cross visibly while working in the kitchen. The rule that no visible jewellery must be worn was applied to all employees. Ms K complained of religious discrimination.

Decision 1. The complaint was upheld.

  1. The employer’s argument that it had a legitimate aim of promoting a particular image to the public was accepted. However, applying a uniform policy for presentation reasons was not sufficiently important to outweigh the employee’s right to manifest her religion.

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