Airline Worker Takes Religious Discrimination Case to High Court

A British Airways check-in worker who refused to hide her cross necklace at work went to London's High Court on Tuesday in a bid to force the airline to admit it was wrong in demanding she stop wearing her necklace.

Nadia Eweida, 56, became embroiled in a highly public row with BA in 2006 after the airline asked that she tuck her cross necklace behind her scarf so that it would not show.

Eweida took BA to an employment tribunal, claiming the airline had discriminated against Christians by not allowing them to openly wear symbols of their faith while Muslim and Hindu employees were permitted to wear headscarves and turbans.

After a public backlash and widespread criticism from politicians and church leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, BA changed its uniform policy to allow crosses on chains to be worn openly.

Despite the change, Eweida wants BA to acknowledge the old policy amounted to religious discrimination, and she is seeking 120,000 pounds (nearly $200,000) in damages and lost wages for the roughly three months she was kept off the job.

Two years ago, however, the tribunal panel ruled that Eweida was treated the same as any other employee would have been if they had broken the uniform policy.

The ruling, according to Mairi Clare, spokeswoman for human rights group Liberty, set "quite a dangerous precedent for people who want to express their religion."

A High Court judgment is expected in the coming weeks.