BA Faith Row Employee Returns to Work

The woman at the centre of the BA faith row has returned to work today, after 19 weeks of unpaid leave and the intervention of 14 bishops, as well as the Prime Minister and numerous Cabinet ministers.

Nadia Eweida, 55, returns to her job as a check-in worker two weeks after the airline did a U-turn on its uniform policy to allow employees to wear Christian symbols openly.

"I'm pleased but appprehensive," she said in The Times. "It's been very strange being off work for so long and it's hard going back when you've been off like this.

"I have had high blood pressure and lots of nosebleeds, probably through the stress. But I've spoken to colleagues - 257 of them signed a petition to support me - so I think it'll be fine."

But the battle is not over. Now Ms Eweida is fighting for BA to pay out thousands of pounds in back pay, while she also wants the airline to donate £100,000 to the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship and include a Christian element in its in-flight entertainment.

An employment tribunal in Reading will set a date to hear her claim that BA "violated her dignity" and discriminated against her on the basis of her Christian faith unless her grievances are "resolved satisfactorily".

One complaint is against the absence of any teaching on Christianity in BA's diversity training. Muslims get time off to pray, while Christians do not and Ms Eweida wants to see that changed.

A further focus is the possibility of Christian programming in the in-flight entertainment system.

"Prior to 9/11, BA had Muslim entertainment on board, listening to the holy Koran," she said. "I've been asking for a Christian counterpart. I'm going to ask them to provide a Christian entertainment channel on the aircraft."

BA's reluctant policy switch followed a public furore in which Cabinet members even threatened to boycott the airline if it did not alter its uniform policy to allow staff to wear symbols of Christianity.

The airline came to the decision after an extensive consultation with its own staff and religious groups including representatives from the Church of England, the Catholic Church and the Muslim Council of Britain.