Christian Nadia Eweida wins six year battle against British Airways at European Court of Human Rights

Richmond and Twickenham Times: Keeping the faith: Nadia Eweida Keeping the faith: Nadia Eweida

A Christian’s six year battle against British Airways has come to an end after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled she suffered discrimination at work over her Christian beliefs.

European judges said Nadia Eweida, 61, from Twickenham, had been beeen victim of a violation of Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Miss Eweida’s case was heard at the ECHR on September 4, alongside three other Christians who believed their rights had been violated. The other three lost their cases, it was announced today.

The four Christians claimed their employers' actions went against articles nine and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protected their rights to "freedom of thought, conscience and religion" and prohibited religious discrimination. 

Miss Eweida was sent home from work for refusing to remove her cross in 2006 when working as a check-in operator.

Miss Eweida was not available for comment this morning, but was adamant she would win the case in an interview yesterday.

Comments (6)

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10:49am Tue 15 Jan 13

EdwinaWaugh says...

Good news! At last Eweida has received justice. For once the EU has acted correctly. I am sure that all the 'liberals' interested in equality for everyone except the British and Christians will be enraged!
Good news! At last Eweida has received justice. For once the EU has acted correctly. I am sure that all the 'liberals' interested in equality for everyone except the British and Christians will be enraged! EdwinaWaugh
  • Score: 0

3:26pm Tue 15 Jan 13

LaurenceMann says...

The key part of the decision is: "The Court therefore concludes that, in these circumstances where there is no evidence of any real encroachment on the interests of others, the domestic authorities failed sufficiently to protect the first applicant’s right to manifest her religion, in breach of the positive obligation under Article 9"

I think this principle is a good one. It balances rights appropriately. BA should have done this before they took the action they did against Ms Eweida. They did not.

But the decision does not give anyone an absolute right to manifest their religion in any way they wish. If their actions impact upon the rights and interests of others to any material extent, they will not be justified.

The three other cases before the Court were also dealt with by applying this principle, and in those cases the applicants were not successful.

For the benefit of the apparently millions of people who have no real idea what the European Court of Human Rights is, let me say that it is not anything to do with the European Union. The ECHR was set up by the Council of Europe, which the UK joined in 1949 as a founder member. It was set up to provide a legal framework for human rights as a permanent counterweight to the possibility of the return of the totalitarian regimes which blighted much of the last century. The European Convention on Human Rights was mainly drafted by British lawyers. As with any Court, its decisions are not always appreciated by everybody; but it has done more than any other supra-national institution to advance individual rights and freedoms, and Ms Eweida's case is one in point. It is a pity that most press and public comment about the ECHR not only conflates it with the EU, but denigrates the whole idea of human rights as if it were some sort of disease.
The key part of the decision is: "The Court therefore concludes that, in these circumstances where there is no evidence of any real encroachment on the interests of others, the domestic authorities failed sufficiently to protect the first applicant’s right to manifest her religion, in breach of the positive obligation under Article 9" I think this principle is a good one. It balances rights appropriately. BA should have done this before they took the action they did against Ms Eweida. They did not. But the decision does not give anyone an absolute right to manifest their religion in any way they wish. If their actions impact upon the rights and interests of others to any material extent, they will not be justified. The three other cases before the Court were also dealt with by applying this principle, and in those cases the applicants were not successful. For the benefit of the apparently millions of people who have no real idea what the European Court of Human Rights is, let me say that it is not anything to do with the European Union. The ECHR was set up by the Council of Europe, which the UK joined in 1949 as a founder member. It was set up to provide a legal framework for human rights as a permanent counterweight to the possibility of the return of the totalitarian regimes which blighted much of the last century. The European Convention on Human Rights was mainly drafted by British lawyers. As with any Court, its decisions are not always appreciated by everybody; but it has done more than any other supra-national institution to advance individual rights and freedoms, and Ms Eweida's case is one in point. It is a pity that most press and public comment about the ECHR not only conflates it with the EU, but denigrates the whole idea of human rights as if it were some sort of disease. LaurenceMann
  • Score: 0

7:53pm Tue 15 Jan 13

JeremyRodell says...

These four judgements seem to strike a reasonable balance between the right to religious and other beliefs and practices on the one hand, and the rights of other people not to be adversely affected by them on the other.
No-one cares whether a check-in person at a BA desk at Heathrow wears a cross. If that's important for them, then fine. The issue here was whether it was reasonable for BA to impose a uniform code that made that impossible. The judges said that the British courts were wrong to support BA's desire for their uniform code - which they subsequently changed - as trumping Nadia's right to wear a cross for the period when it was in place. Fair enough.

The three cases which were lost - where the ECHR ruled in support of the British courts were:
1. A registrar in Islington who refused to conduct Civil Ceremonies for gay couples.
2. A nurse in Devon who insisted on wearing a cross on a chain when the geriatric hospital where she worked had a safety rule that it was unsafe to wear anything that patients might grab, or might cause cross-infection.
3. A Relate counsellor in Bristol who gained qualifications in psycho-sexual counselling and then refused to provide it to gay couples, despite knowing that Relate has a non-discrimination policy.

The reason all four cases got as far as they did was because a small group called the Christian Legal Centre, supported by a couple of leading evangelicals (notably Lord Carey) are trying to create a false narrative that Christians are somehow persecuted in this country. That is manifestly untrue - look at all the state-funded schools the church controls, or the 26 unelected bishops in the House of Lords. Worse, it makes a false equivalence with cases where Christians are suffering genuine persecution, such as in Iraq or Pakistan, where they need all the support of us all.
These four judgements seem to strike a reasonable balance between the right to religious and other beliefs and practices on the one hand, and the rights of other people not to be adversely affected by them on the other. No-one cares whether a check-in person at a BA desk at Heathrow wears a cross. If that's important for them, then fine. The issue here was whether it was reasonable for BA to impose a uniform code that made that impossible. The judges said that the British courts were wrong to support BA's desire for their uniform code - which they subsequently changed - as trumping Nadia's right to wear a cross for the period when it was in place. Fair enough. The three cases which were lost - where the ECHR ruled in support of the British courts were: 1. A registrar in Islington who refused to conduct Civil Ceremonies for gay couples. 2. A nurse in Devon who insisted on wearing a cross on a chain when the geriatric hospital where she worked had a safety rule that it was unsafe to wear anything that patients might grab, or might cause cross-infection. 3. A Relate counsellor in Bristol who gained qualifications in psycho-sexual counselling and then refused to provide it to gay couples, despite knowing that Relate has a non-discrimination policy. The reason all four cases got as far as they did was because a small group called the Christian Legal Centre, supported by a couple of leading evangelicals (notably Lord Carey) are trying to create a false narrative that Christians are somehow persecuted in this country. That is manifestly untrue - look at all the state-funded schools the church controls, or the 26 unelected bishops in the House of Lords. Worse, it makes a false equivalence with cases where Christians are suffering genuine persecution, such as in Iraq or Pakistan, where they need all the support of us all. JeremyRodell
  • Score: 0

9:27am Thu 17 Jan 13

jeremyhm says...

Surely a little tolerance and good man management could have avoided most of this. Someone has a firm moral stance that he/she doesn't wish to counsel about same sex relationships: why doesn't the manager give the job to another member of staff? This sort of thing happens with doctors re abortion: if a dr is morally against abortion, he refers a patient to a colleague. Everybody happy.
Surely a little tolerance and good man management could have avoided most of this. Someone has a firm moral stance that he/she doesn't wish to counsel about same sex relationships: why doesn't the manager give the job to another member of staff? This sort of thing happens with doctors re abortion: if a dr is morally against abortion, he refers a patient to a colleague. Everybody happy. jeremyhm
  • Score: 0

10:05am Thu 17 Jan 13

JeremyRodell says...

If you read the details, there's a lot more to it in all these cases. Here's the link to the judgement itself: http://hudoc.echr.co
e.int/sites/eng/page
s/search.aspx?i=001-
115881

With the possible exception of BA, the relevant management did their best while giving the priority to meeting the needs of their clients/customers, and avoiding difficulties with other members of their staff.

The common feature was the Christian Legal Centre. It seems they would prefer to bring problems to the point where there is a court case, even if they lose it (which they have in almost every case), as it feeds into the "persecution" narrative they're trying to create.
If you read the details, there's a lot more to it in all these cases. Here's the link to the judgement itself: http://hudoc.echr.co e.int/sites/eng/page s/search.aspx?i=001- 115881 With the possible exception of BA, the relevant management did their best while giving the priority to meeting the needs of their clients/customers, and avoiding difficulties with other members of their staff. The common feature was the Christian Legal Centre. It seems they would prefer to bring problems to the point where there is a court case, even if they lose it (which they have in almost every case), as it feeds into the "persecution" narrative they're trying to create. JeremyRodell
  • Score: 0

4:46pm Thu 17 Jan 13

jeremyhm says...

I can't see much difference between the Christian Legal Centre putting these cases and BHA putting the JR case on behalf of some Twickenham residents. Here we had people with strong moral beliefs (that you may or may nor agree with) who were prepared to lose their jobs rather than compromise their principles. Surely they deserved the best possible representation in Court?
You really have no right to attribute the basest possible motives to a sincere faith group."Judge not, that ye be not judged"
I can't see much difference between the Christian Legal Centre putting these cases and BHA putting the JR case on behalf of some Twickenham residents. Here we had people with strong moral beliefs (that you may or may nor agree with) who were prepared to lose their jobs rather than compromise their principles. Surely they deserved the best possible representation in Court? You really have no right to attribute the basest possible motives to a sincere faith group."Judge not, that ye be not judged" jeremyhm
  • Score: 0

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