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ENGLAND: Airline worker still appealing against cross ban as British Airways reviews policy

12/7/2006
[Ecumenical News International]  Nadia Eweida, a British Airways check-in worker, has begun a second appeal against the company's refusal to allow her to wear a small cross outside her uniform. The company said it would review its policy, following pressure by the leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

"The review will examine ways in which our uniform policy will be adapted to allow symbols of faith to be worn openly while remaining consistent with the British Airways brand and compliant with employment legislation," the company stated in November.

Eweida's first appeal against a company request to cover up the cross she was wearing around her neck was turned down on November 20. The decision prompted the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, to suggest that the Church of England might review its 10 million pound sterling (US$19 million) investment in the company.

A British Airways spokesperson told Ecumenical News International on December 7 that a second appeal had always been open to Eweida and that the decision would be announced later.

The cross is less than two centimeters wide, and Eweida asserted that she was not being given the same rights by the company as Muslims, who may wear headscarves, and Sikhs, who are allowed to wear turbans.

In its announcement of the policy review, British Airways said: "Though our policy is consistent with that of many other airlines, it has become clear that the policy will need to change in the light of the public debate. Therefore, we are initiating a review of the policy which will begin immediately."

Among staff suggestions being considered as part of the policy review is the wearing of religious symbols as small lapel badges. The company's existing policy is that religious symbols should be worn underneath uniforms. It allows, however, the wearing of turbans and headscarves, as it says it is not practical to conceal these items.