Four cases involving religion have worked their way from the UK to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. These Christians claimed that they were discriminated against because of their religion. According to the BBC, the cases are:
Nadia Eweida, a Pentecostal Christian from Twickenham, south-west London, who was sent home by her employer British Airways in 2006 after refusing to remove a necklace with a cross.
Devon-based nurse Shirley Chaplin, who was moved to a desk job by Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust Hospital for similar reasons.
Gary McFarlane, a Bristol relationship counsellor, who was sacked by Relate after saying on a training course he might have had a conscientious objection to giving sex therapy advice to gay couples.
Registrar Lilian Ladele, who was disciplined after she refused to conduct same-sex civil partnership ceremonies in north London.
Lawyers for the British government argued before the EHCR that employers had every right to regulate expressions of religion in the professional sphere.
I have no idea what the laws are that apply in the UK and in the EHCR, but on general principles, my own feeling is that in the first two cases the plaintiffs have some grounds for complaint. Wearing a necklace with a cross, if it is not a hazard in the workplace, seems harmless enough. But this has to be balanced with the right of a private employer (as in the first case of the above four) to enforce a uniform dress code.
I have no sympathy for the plaintiffs in the other two cases though. People who are hired to do a job that involves meeting the needs of the public should not be allowed to unilaterally decide which members of that public to serve and which to deny services.