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