Nov 24th
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Dress code did not disadvantage a Muslim

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HR Director

Begum v Pedagogy Auras UK Ltd t/a Barley Lane Montessori Day Nursery is a tribunal case which shows how the test for applying indirect discrimination works when it is claimed that a dress code places people observing a particular religion at a disadvantage.

Begum is a Muslim, who wears a full-length jilbab which covers her body from her neck to her ankles, and a hijab. She refused a job at a nursery after being told that she would need to wear non-slip footwear for health and safety reasons and that while she could wear a jilbab to work, it could not be of the type that covered her shoes and touched the floor. Various options had been discussed to accommodate a different style of jilbab, but Begum claimed indirect religious discrimination because the nursery had some policies that went against her morals and beliefs.

The tribunal rejected her claim as the Nursery's policy did not contravene the second part of the indirect discrimination test where it would need to be shown that it put Muslim women at a particular disadvantage. There was no group (or indeed individual) disadvantage, since Muslim women would be able to wear a jilbab - whether full length dress or shorter - as long as it did not represent a trip hazard.

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