LONDON — In what is being called a landmark ruling, a British Airways clerk who was sent home for wearing a cross to work won a judgment at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) over her claims that British judges failed to protect her religious freedom when they ruled against her.
The decision today from the court in Strasbourg, France, rejected the claims of three other British Christians who alleged religious discrimination, including a nurse who wanted to wear a cross in violation of a hospital’s health rules and a city worker who refused to register civil partnerships of same-sex couples.
The airline employee, Nadia Eweida, was sent home in 2006 after deciding to wear her cross over her uniform instead of under it, according to the ruling.
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While the carrier changed its policy in 2007 and allowed her to openly wear the cross, it had violated her religious freedoms protected under European law, the court ruled.
“On the other side of the scales was the employer’s wish to project a certain corporate image,” the court wrote in a summary of the ruling. “While this aim was undoubtedly legitimate, the domestic courts accorded it too much weight.”
British Airways, a unit of International Consolidated Airlines Group SA, had no immediate comment on the ruling.
The hearing follows months of increasing tensions between the human-rights court and Britain, where politicians have railed against what they see as European interference in domestic matters.
Prime Minister David Cameron has sought to balance calls from his Conservative Party to defend religious rights and deference to British courts, saying last year he would change British law if the ECHR rules against Britain.
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