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Individuality

Entry 409, on 2006-10-16 at 13:13:36 (Rating 2, News)

A hot topic in the UK at the moment seems to be the right for individuals to wear religious clothing and symbols. Recently British Airways asked a Christian member of their staff to conceal her cross necklace because it contravened their uniform policy. And a minister in the British government has been attacked after calling for a Muslim teaching assistant to be sacked for wearing a veil.

Should employers have the right to tell employees what they can wear? And if they do have this right, how far can they take it? For example, is wearing a small cross OK, but wearing a veil not OK? Many people criticise Muslims for "forcing" women to wear veils, but some Christian sects have similar restrictions, and if its part of a belief system is that allowable or not?

I have major problems with employers dictating what employees must wear. Should peoples' individuality be completely stifled while they are at work? Should all employees of a big organisation look and act the same? And if exceptions are made, how far should it go? If someone has agreed to work for a company doesn't that company have the right to tell the employee what to do?

There's a lot of questions above and I don't think they have simple answers. There have got to be some compromise. I can't see any harm in wearing a small cross. I'm not a Christian, but if someone wants to wear a cross that should be an expression of their individual character. Of course, I would expect they wouldn't object if I wore an atheist symbol: a Darwin evolved fish, Invisible Pink Unicorn or Flying Spaghetti Monster maybe.

Wearing a veil is a bit more serious and makes a significant difference to a person's appearance, and maybe even their ability to do a job. But allowing a Christian cross but not a Muslim view presents obvious problems. So you can see how some employers would just put a blanket ban on wearing any sort of non-uniform clothing or ornaments at all. But that's just the easy way out, used by people who are too lazy to make fairer rules. On the other hand I wouldn't want the task of saying what the rule should be!

Maybe the best comment I saw on this was the following from the BBC discussion web site: "Wearing a piece of jewelry, a turban, a skull cap, islamic style clothing is fine. It is when people go to extremes that we get these kinds of responses. If a Christian went into work nailed to a cross I'm sure their boss would be upset. There should be a certain amount of freedom of expression, but there should also be a limit to what is acceptable. Paul Fadden, Reading, United Kingdom"

Of course, the problem is where is that limit, and who sets it.

Link at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6051486.stm

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Comment 1 (273) by Joe on 2006-10-28 at 23:02:26:

Everyone knows what is OK and what isn't. There doesn't really need to be any rules about it. Wearing a cross is fine and BA shouldn't be trying to do this.

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