Posted by Gemma Ospedale, Partner
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Indirect religious discrimination and jilbabs
In Begum v Pedagogy Auras UK Limited t/a Barley Lane Montessori Nursery, the Tribunal held that restricting the length of a garment which the Claimant was required to wear for religious purposes was not discriminatory.
The jilbab, which Ms Begum wore, was a flowing outer garment covering her from neck to ankle. When she was interviewed for the position as nursery assistant she was asked if she could wear a shorter garment for work as this was considered to be a trip hazard. She complained of discrimination.
The Employment Tribunal found that the provision, criterion or practice in relation to style of clothing did not put Muslim women at a disadvantage because a shorter jilbab would have been acceptable. Furthermore wearing long flowing clothing may apply equally to non-religious teachers as to religious. Neither was there any evidence provided that it was a religious requirement to wear a floor length garment. Even if it did put her at a disadvantage, the Tribunal held the disadvantage was justified on the grounds of safety.
This legal update is provided for general information purposes only and should not be applied to specific circumstances without prior consultation with us.
For further details on any of the issues covered in this update please contact Gemma Ospedale, Partner in Employment on 020 7583 2222.
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