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Prison`s uniform policy banning the wearing of ceremonial daggers was justified

08 June 2011 #Employment

Jagdip Dhinsa was a Sikh employed by Serco as a Prison Officer. Initiated Sikh`s often wear a Kirpan (a Ceremonial Dagger) as a symbol of their faith. Mr Dhinsa requested to wear his Kirpan at work, but his request was rejected.  This was on the grounds of the statutory prison service order, which imposes a ban on the wearing of a Kirpan, as well as the health and safety issues of an officer carrying a weapon inside the prison.

Mr Dhinsa brought Tribunal proceedings alleging that he had been indirectly discriminated against on the grounds of race and his religion.

The Tribunal rejected his claim.  However, it accepted that the wearing of the Kirpan was a religious belief, and that the ban may have potentially been discriminatory. However, the  the ban was justified as a proportionate means of achieving the legitimate aim; namely, protecting the safety of staff, members of the public and prisoners. As such, his religious discrimination claim failed.

Dress codes are a tricky area, as this case and other recent cases (such as the case of Mrs Eweida who sued British Airways for preventing her from wearing a visible crucifix) have shown.
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