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A British Airways employee has been forced to take voluntary leave after refusing to take off or cover up a cross she wore around her neck.
The check-in worker at London's Heathrow Airport was forced to take unpaid leave after refusing to remove the Christian symbol. The airline has ruled that displaying a cross breaches company rules regarding uniforms.
In a letter, British Airways told Heathrow check-in worker Nadia Eweida: "You were asked to cover up or remove your cross and chain which you refused to do. British Airways uniform standards stipulate that adornments of any kind are not to be worn with the uniform."
A BA spokeswoman emphasized that Eweida has not been suspended from her job, but has chosen to take unpaid leave. "You have been sent home because you have failed to comply with a reasonable request."
Eweida, a committed Christian, plans to take legal action against the airline.
Speaking to Sky News, she said: "To me, this is horrendous, words fail me. I feel very strongly about it."
Eweida's lawyer Mark Stephens said she had a good case. "This is quite clearly religious discrimination which was outlawed by this government some years ago now.
"Justice is blind in these circumstances - you do not look at color or religion. Providing the person is wearing a discreet symbol - a moderate sized cross, a Star of David or a crescent then that is protected by the law," he added.
In a statement, British Airways added: "British Airways does recognize that uniformed employees may wish to wear jewellery including religious symbols. Our uniform policy states that these items can be worn underneath the uniform.
"This rule applies for all jewellery and religious symbols on chains and is not specific to the Christian cross. Other items such as turbans, hijabs and bangles can be worn as it is not practical for staff to conceal them beneath their uniforms."
Ironically this case arose days after Eweida had completed a training course to raise awareness of other cultures and to teach staff how to deal with religious differences.
Meanwhile a Muslim teacher has been suspended for wearing a veil in class. Aishah Azmi was asked to remove her veil in class but refused. The school defended their action and said it was "nothing to do with religion" but a practical issue about making herself understood.
Headfield Church of England Junior School, in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, said that pupils found it hard to understand her during English language lessons.
Azmi, who is taking the school to an employment tribunal, said it was never a problem for her students. She said: "They never complained."
"It hasn't caused a problem between myself and the children. They've never complained and we had a brilliant relationship," she added.
She added that she was willing to take off the veil in class, but not in front of any male colleagues.
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