A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: European Court of Human Rights

Finding My Religion

By José I. Ortiz

Last year, in article entitled “Losing My Religion,” LASIS reported on four British employees who brought religious discrimination claims against their employers and lost all the way up through their country’s highest court. Their last recourse was the European Court of Human Rights that decided the four cases this January. Was it a happy ending for these lethargic litigants? As it turns out, the only Cinderella story here is that of Nadia Eweida, who wanted to wear a cross on a chain at her airline job.

This British Airways check-in clerk was awarded €32,000 which the government will have to pay (because that’s who she sued). In its judgment, the court stated that while companies have a right to project their desired image through employee uniforms, this right cannot trump an employee’s right to wear religious icons – to a degree. The decision is not entirely clear, and lawyers in Britain are battling over what it means for everyone else going forward. Meanwhile, the court has received twitter praise from Prime Minister David Cameron who tweeted that “ppl shouldn’t suffer discrimination due to religious beliefs.”

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Losing My Religion

By José I. Ortiz

Considering how many talking points in the 2012 election have had to do with religion (Romney’s Mormonism, the morality of the Ryan budget, and Christian views  on abortion and gay marriage) it’s easy to forget that in some countries, religion and party-politics are considered a private matter, not to be discussed in polite society.

The United Kingdom is one of these countries; in the land of tea and crumpets, discussing politics or religion at dinner parties is considered cheeky.  And so it is surprising that religious liberties in the workplace have been brought center stage by four of Her Majesty’s subjects.

CNN’s Belief Blog brought my attention to Nadia Eweida, Shirley Chaplin, Lilian Ladele and Gary McFarlane, who allege that they were each reprimanded at work for upholding their religious beliefs. After losing on appeal in British courts, their cases were heard by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on September 4. A decision could take months.

Both Ms. Eweida, a nurse, and Ms. Chaplin, a flight attendant for British Airways, wore necklaces with hanging crosses to work, were told to take them off, and refused. Ms. Eweida was suspended; Ms. Chaplin was forced into early retirement.

Ms. Ladele and Mr. McFarlane both had government jobs. Ms. Ladele was a registrar who was disciplined for refusing to process civil unions involving same-sex couples. Mr. McFarlane, who has been spearheading the legal process for all four of these cases with the support of the Christian Legal Centre, was a couples counselor paid by the National Health Service. He was fired after telling his superior that because of his Christian faith he was not willing to work with same-sex couples on sex related issues.

How would their cases fare in the U.S.? How will their cases actually fare in Europe? LASIS investigates.

(more…)

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