A Christian employee of British Airways (BA) has lost her suit against the airline for telling her she cannot wear her crucifix, while allowing Muslim and Sikh employees to don their religious scarves and turbans.

Nadia Ewedia, a check-in worker at London's Heathrow Airport, claims she was told in a letter from the company that her cross breached its uniform rules. "British Airways permits Muslims to wear a headscarf, Sikhs to wear a turban, and other faiths [to wear] religious apparel," said Ewedia, a seven-year employee of the airline. "Only Christians are forbidden to express their faith."

BA said religious items such as Muslims' hijabs (headscarves) and Sikhs' turbans and traditional iron bangles could be worn by workers "as it is not practical for staff to conceal them beneath their uniforms."

Ewedia, a Coptic Christian with an Egyptian father and an English mother, said she refused to remove the crucifix or hide it beneath a BA scarf. She was sent home and told in a letter that she "failed to comply with a reasonable request."

"British Airways uniform standards stipulate that adornments of any kind are not to be worn with the uniform," the letter said. The company put her on unpaid leave pending a disciplinary hearing.

Ewedia said the small cross she wears on a chain around her neck is a symbol of her deeply held Christian beliefs. The airline's chief executive, Willie Walsh, upheld the action against Ewedia.

"Because of the international nature of its work, I believe that BA could justifiably prohibit all its staff from wearing any religious symbol," said Neil Addison, author of Religious Discrimination and Hatred Law. "What it cannot do is impose different, and therefore discriminatory, rules on Muslim and Christian staff members."

Related Elsewhere:

Outraged British newspapers covered the story extensively. The Daily Mail and The Telegraph have an articles about Nadia Eweida's suspension and decision to sue.

The Telegraph has further articles on Christians' boycott of British Airways, the symbol of the cross and British culture, British companies' policies on wearing crosses, and Nadia Eweida's ongoing fight with British Airways (video clip available).

The BBC has also covered the story, with an audio/video interview the day of the event and an article on the Christian reaction.

Australia Broadcasting Corporation also has a transcript of their news report.

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