Nose Stud = No Job

Lalji, wearing teeny tiny nose stud.

Heathrow aiport caterers Eurest UK fired Amrit Lalji, 40, of Stanmore, north-west London, who worked in an airport VIP arrivals lounge, for failing to remove her nose jewelry (BBC). She wore the stud for more than a year before a manager told her to remove it.

Eurest’s official statement includes the following information on the hazards of mixing nath and naan: “Jewellery can harbour bacteria, create a hazard when working with machinery and find its way into the food people eat.” Lalji’s temple, union, and the mayor of London have spoken out against the employer’s decision to dismiss her.

The Stanmore Swaminarayan temple and the Hindu Council UK find the firing unjust and the temple has given “a letter to Amrit, quoting Hindu religious scriptures in order to prove that wearing a nose stud is part of Hindu faith.” Lalji, who came to the UK from Kenya, says “My family is originally from Kutch, Gujarat. As a Hindu, I have imbibed the tradition of wearing the shringar of a married woman from my mother.” (The Pioneer)

Union official Tahir Bhatti states that “this is not a fair way to proceed and must be reversed and dress codes introduced which deal with all religious matters.” (“GMB Member At Heathrow Sacked For Refusing To Remove Religious Nose Pin”) London Mayor Ken Livingstone has described the dismissal as an attack on her right to freely express her religion and on her right as a woman to dress as she wishes. He argued that “the suggestion that wearing a tiny nose stud is a threat to public health and safety is frankly ridiculous. Will this company now be sacking all women with pierced ears?” (The Press Association)

More: “The nose-stud wars: Political correctness or corporate practice?”

Update: After an internal hearing, Lalji’s employer decided that “the rules relating to facial piercings were mandatory only in catering operations.” She did not engage in catering and has been reinstated. (BBC).

September 19, 2007
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