British woman awarded damages after denial of job due to Shabbat

A travel company told the rejected Jewish applicant that it was “still looking for people who were flexible enough to work on Saturdays.”

May 31, 2015 01:20
1 minute read.
Woman using laptop

Woman using laptop in office corridor . (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)

LONDON – An observant Jewish woman was awarded £16,000 by an employment tribunal after successfully challenging a company that refused to consider her job application after she said she could not work Saturdays because she observed Shabbat.

Aurelie Fhima, a 23-yearold from Manchester sent her résumé to a Birmingham company, Travel Jigsaw, and was granted an interview, but when she said she could not work Saturdays she was told by letter that “after careful consideration we cannot offer you a position at this time.” The company added that it was “still looking for people who were flexible enough to work on Saturdays.”

She asked the company to review its decision and, when it refused, decided to take legal action on the grounds that it was indirect discrimination on the grounds of religion.

Judges on the tribunal agreed with her, and awarded her just under £8,000 for loss of earnings, £7,500 for injury to her feelings and £1,200 for legal fees.

The company said working shifts were from 7 to 11 am Monday to Saturdays but that employees always had two days off a week.

Fhima challenged the decision to turn down her application, but the company claimed she had not been truthful over her ability to work Saturdays in their initial telephone interview, only confessing to this omission during their faceto- face interview.

This was strongly denied by Fhima who counter claimed that the way the company behaved was “devastating.”

A Jigsaw spokesman said the company was extremely disappointed by the judgment, saying it employs “an extremely diverse workforce with colleagues representing 65 nationalities.”

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