Christians go 1 for 4 in ECHR

To follow up on the earlier story of 4 Christians who claimed human rights violations, the Richmond and Twickenham Times reports that only one succeeded.

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. All but Miss Eweida’s case were unsuccessful.

So, not being allowed to wear a cross on a necklace at work, that’s a human rights violation (if you’re a Christian), but not being allowed to marry isn’t a violation (if you’re gay)? I can’t argue the merits of Ms. Eweida’s case because I don’t know all the details, but at least two of the other three plaintiffs were specifically seeking a court judgment in favor of their desire to discriminate against gays and to refuse to allow them to receive equal treatment. If denying someone the right to wear a necklace is officially a human rights violation, those two should not merely have lost their lawsuit, they should have been found guilty.


  1. says

    From what I can see it’s a sensible decision.
    The one who won won on grounds that the employer couldn’t show any negative impact of a small necklace on her work or the company. It still means that if they could demonstrate this they would be OK.
    I’m quite happy about courts telling employers that they need a fucking good reason to tell you something like that.
    Maybe it becomes clearer if you don’t think about American work-culture but more about European where we seem to have a fundamentally different approach to jobs, employers, employees and hire and fire and such things.

    • Deacon Duncan says

      Yeah, it’s interesting that, contrary to the narrative “persecuted” Christians would like to promote, the actual ruling wasn’t about religious freedom at all. She could have been wearing a leprechaun pin from a box of Lucky Charms breakfast cereal, and the ruling would have been the same.

  2. mudpuddles says

    @ Giliell

    I agree, it seems to be a very careful ruling on a specific aspect of the version of the British Airways dresscode that was in place when the lady in question worked for BA. After she left BA – and before the case went to the ECHR – the airline reviewed its dresscode and actually amended it to remove ambiguity and be more clear on the rights of staff to wear personal jewellery (which could include religious and almost any other symbols, Star Trek pins, a red “A”, little unicorns etc) as long as it is deemed moderate and does not in any way infringe on the company’s image.
    This was partly in recognition of the fact that Seikh members of staff were already allowed to wear a turban, and Muslim staff could wear a hijab, so the wearing of religious items was not actually prohibited. But it seems that the internal rules on jewellery needed moderation and clarification. In this case, wearing any jewellery other than wedding bands or plain rings (such as a cross on a pendant) was allowed if it was under the uniform; it was only when she started wearing it above the uniform that she seems to have been in trouble. With the change to the dress code, staff can wear specific personal jewellery (be it a cross or other symbol) over their clothing as long as its small, discrete, not in-your-face and does not infringe on the company image.

    In short, the ECHR ruling confirms that the way the woman was treated over her little crucifix when working for BA was inconsistent with the wider BA dresscode and could be seen as an infringement on a person’s religious freedom, that BA’s new dress code is fair, and that if a member of staff wants to wear something that indicates that they believe in fairy stories and worship a non-existent magic dude, they can do so, but discretely.

  3. Itchy Ike says

    For the record, the BA case was decided in favor of the plaintiff because BA actually changed their policy on jewelry before the trial. The court ruled that, since BA had changed its dress code, the prohibition against visible jewelry wasn’t based on objective criteria. The other jewelry case, though, was at a hospital; their dress code prohibited dangling necklaces due to the risk of contamination and transmission. The court ruled for the hospital because, in that case, the dress code was based on objective, unchanging criteria.

    The article I read said that, if BA hadn’t changed their dress code, the court would probably have ruled against the plaintiff in that case as well. Their decision was based on BA’s actions, not the protection of religious expression.

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