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Court upholds woman's right to wear cross

Jan. 16, 2013 at 9:43 AM

STRASBOURG, France, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- A British woman's right to express her religion by wearing a cross to work has been upheld by the European Court of Human Rights.

In a landmark judgment defining the limits of religious freedom, the court awarded Coptic Christian Nadia Eweida, 60, $2,600 in compensation and nearly $40,000 in expenses after ruling against the United Kingdom, The Guardian reported.

Three other British Christians, who also claimed religious discrimination, lost their appeals.

The Strasbourg court did not criticize UK law but said British courts had failed to balance competing interests in the Eweida case adequately.

On the one hand was Eweida's decision to display her religious belief and on the other was the wish of British Airways, her employer, to project a certain corporate image.

"While this aim is undoubtedly legitimate, the domestic courts accorded it too much weight," the judgment released Tuesday said.

British Airways uniform code required women to wear a high-necked shirt and a cravat, with no visible jewelry when Eweida was sent home without pay in 2006.

She returned to work in in 2007 when the dress code changed to permit the display of religious and charity symbols with the cross and the Star of David given immediate authorization.

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