British Airways cross case winner Nadia Eweida 'jubilant'

Nadia Eweida: "I feel vindicated."

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A Christian British Airways employee who won her discrimination-at-work case at the European Court of Human Rights has said she is "jubilant".

Nadia Eweida said she was "jumping with joy" after the court ruled she was unfairly discriminated against when asked to stop wearing a cross visibly.

The court ruled that her rights under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights had been violated.

The Londoner, who is still with BA, said it had "not been an easy ride".

Start Quote

It has been difficult, it's not [been] an easy ride but it's been worth it”

End Quote Nadia Eweida British Airways employee

Judges ruled that the rights of three other Christians had not been violated by their employers.

The other cases involved nurse Shirley Chaplin, 57, whose employer also stopped her wearing necklaces with a cross, Gary McFarlane, 51 - a marriage counsellor fired after saying he might object to giving sex therapy advice to gay couples - and Islington Council registrar Lillian Ladele, who was disciplined after she refused to conduct same-sex civil partnership ceremonies.

'Frustration and distress'

Speaking to BBC London 94.9 Miss Eweida, 60, from Twickenham, said: "Words fail to express [my jubilation]. I am jumping and went [over the top]."

The matter of wearing the cross came up in 2006 when she was first asked not to wear it to work and then suspended after refusing to remove it.

The importance of the cross

Crucifix held aloft
  • The cross has not always been the main symbol of Christianity. In the early days of the Church in Rome many believers used the fish symbol to avoid detection
  • Crucifixion was also a method of execution for murderers and thieves, so some of the earliest depictions of Jesus on a cross were used by Pagans to mock early Christians
  • The use of the cross as a symbol became more overtly popular after the conversion of Emperor Constantine to Christianity in the 4th Century
  • It is now the most widely recognisable symbol of Christianity, used by many Christians as an aid to prayer as well as a symbol of their faith

Source: BBC Religion and Ethics

Miss Eweida said her appeals were turned down by BA and she lost in six UK courts.

She said: "It has been difficult, it's not [been] an easy ride but it's been worth it.

"I am very pleased that Christian religious rights have been vindicated, both in the UK and Europe, and I am also very pleased that after all this time that the European Court has specifically recognised that I have suffered anxiety, frustration and distress."

She added that she has received support from hundreds of colleagues at work, donors and human rights campaign group Liberty.

Referring to the other cases in the court Miss Eweida said: "I am very disappointed on behalf of the other three, especially Shirley Chaplin because wearing the cross is the same principle, her faith should be recognised and I fully support them in their quest for a referral to the Grand Chamber... to seek justice."

A statement from BA said the case was against the UK government and not them, adding: " Our own uniform policy was changed in 2007 to allow Miss Eweida and others to wear symbols of faith and she and other employees have been working under these arrangements for the last six years.

"Miss Eweida has worked continuously for British Airways for 13 years."

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