An observant Jewish woman from Manchester has won £16,000 compensation from a travel company which refused to employ her because she couldn’t work on Shabbat.
Aurelie Fhima sued after Travel Jigsaw rejected her application on the grounds that they were “looking for people who are flexible enough to work on Saturdays”.
That followed the application being turned down after Fhima, 23, from Salford, revealed that she observes Shabbat – the Jewish day of rest which lasts from sundown on Friday until sunset on Saturday and prevents work of any kind.
The shifts were between 7am and 11am from Monday to Saturday, but employees always got two days a week off, so Fhima asked the firm to review its decision. When it refused she launched legal action, claiming indirect discrimination on grounds of religion.
In court, the firm claimed Fhima had lied about her ability to work Saturdays during the phone conversation, and confessed during the face-to-face interview. However tribunal judges sided with Fhima, awarding almost £8,000 for loss of earnings, £7,500 for injury to feelings and £1,200 in fees.
“This case serves as an important reminder to employers of the obligations they have to job applicants, not just their employees,” said her lawyer. “It also shows that many large employers still fail to understand the law surrounding discrimination.”
A spokesperson for the travel company said it was “extremely disappointed”.