This article was orginally published in The Huffington Post on 15th January 2013.
British Airways employee Nadia Eweida, who claimed she suffered religious discrimination at work because she was asked to remove her cross, has won a landmark legal battle at the European Court of Human Rights.
But three other claimants lost their cases, including that of marriage counsellor Gary McFarlane, who was sacked for saying he might object to offering sex therapy to homosexuals and registrar Lillian Ladele, who was disciplined after refusing to conduct same-sex civil partnership ceremonies.
Nurse Shirley Chaplin also lost her case despite being moved to a paperwork role by the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust in Devon after she refused to take off a confirmation cross. The European Court of Human Rights ruled that health and safety on the wards more important than her religious rights.
The four had argued the actions of their employers contravened articles nine and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights which prohibit religious discrimination and allow “freedom of thought, conscience and religion”.
Lawyers for the government contested their claims arguing that their rights are only protected in private.
Ms Eweida, 60, from Twickenham, south-west London, received widespread publicity when she was sent home in 2006 after refusing to remove a necklace with a cross or hide it from view.
An employment tribunal ruled the Coptic Christian, originally from Egypt, did not suffer religious discrimination.
BA later changed its uniform policy to allow all symbols of faith, including crosses.
However Tuesday’s ruling found a fair balance was not struck between Miss Eweida’s desire to demonstrate her religious belief and BA’s wish to “project a certain corporate image”.