Schoolgirl Lydia Playfoot has lost her legal challenge over a ban preventing her from wearing a Christian “purity ring” in school.The High Court challenge is the latest in a series of high profile cases involving symbols of religion.
Last year, a row erupted when British Airways employee, Nadia Eweida, sought to wear a cross outside of her BA uniform and earlier this year a 12-year-old school girl failed in an attempt to challenge her school’s ban on a full face veil.
Experts at leading law firm Brabners Chaffe Street, who run discriminationonline.com – the UK’s first website dedicated to issues of discrimination in the workplace – said similar claims by employees are likely to become increasingly common.
Jonathan I’Anson, a partner at the firm, said: “We will see more of these types of cases and one by one the manifestations of each religion may well be looked at”.
“Cases concerning religion and dress codes often turn on one issue – whether the wearing of a symbol of a religion, a ring or a cross for example, is a manifestation of the religion itself”.
“It is up to the courts and tribunals to decide what is, and what is not, a manifestation of the religion in question.”
The law protects people in the workplace from discrimination on the grounds of their religion or belief.
“Employers should ensure that they have clear dress codes in place which set out what is and is not acceptable in the workplace but do not breach the regulations”.
In February, a 12-year-old schoolgirl failed in an attempt to legally challenge her school’s ban on a full face veil. The school, in Buckinhamshire, had informed the girl that it was unacceptable for her to wear a niqab as the school believed it would make communication and learning difficult.
The Judge rejected her lawyer’s arguments for a judicial review stressing the necessity to enforce a school uniform policy under which girls of different faiths would have a sense of equality and identity.
In January, British Airways announced it was changing its uniform policy to allow all religious symbols to be worn openly in the wake of the row over a worker’s attempts to wear a cross.
BA had reportedly banned any jewellery being worn outside of its uniform, but allowed hijabs and turbans to be worn.
The Company had always argued it never intended to discriminate against Christians regarding it’s policy on jewellery but was bound to follow discrimination laws to the letter.