Case Review: Muslim employee who wore headscarf to work “forced to resign”

A luggage retailer based in Piccadilly, Central London, forced a Muslim employee to resign after she wore a headscarf to the store which wanted to retain a “trendy image”.

Ms Farrah brought a claim for both unfair dismissal and direct discrimination on grounds of religion against her former employer, Global Luggage Co.

The claimant originally worked in both the Oxford Street and Piccadilly branches of the retailer, but the day after she wore a headscarf to work her employers immediately moved her to the Oxford Street store and changed the rota to prevent her from further shifts at the Piccadilly store.

She was told that the company was “trying to maintain an image at Piccadilly”, the inference being the headscarves did not fit in with this image, hence the transfer to Oxford Street.

A couple of months later the claimant was forced to resign after her employers disagreed with her taking an extended lunch break.

The employment tribunal found that the employer had “seized on the claimant’s admitted misconduct as a pretext for dismissing her”.

Ms Farrah won her claim for unfair dismissal but not the claim for direct religious discrimination. However the tribunal stated that had she brought a claim for indirect discrimination instead, she would probably have succeeded.

Last month the Prime Minister vowed to amend the legislation to allow individuals to wear religious symbols at work following the Eweida case, where a BA employee was sent home for wearing a visible crucifix.