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Thursday, 4 August 2011

Should Religious observances be protected in the workplace.

Hannah Adewole

Yesterday I was invited as a guest speaker on a Nihal Show discussion on religion in the workplace. A Christian woman Hannah Adewole has lost her claim for discrimination against her employers lodged after she refused to wear trousers adhering to a verse in Deuteronomy that states women should not dress as men. Further details on Hannah's story can be found by following the link below:

The biblical verse that has caused this recent debate is from Deuteronomy 22 v 5:

"A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this." NIV

Although I do not agree with Hannah's interpretation of this verse I can see that she has a strongly held belief that the verse prohibits the wearing of trousers at work. As such I am dismayed that the Barking Havering and Redbridge Trust (my local trust coincidentally), were unable to facilitate some compromise with a scrub dress as I cannot see how it would have impacted to adversely with any clinical health and safety. Again I am not an expert but I can imagine the cost of the legal battle, the loss of moral to other staff members who may have been emotionally attached to Hannah and recruitment of new staff must be quite expensive.

Personally, I believe that staff morale is important in a workplace and improves productivity. As a business director I try where possible to cater for the needs of all my staff where solutions are reasonably practicable and inexpensive.

The dilemma I am faced with on this particular story is that I believe Hannah's understanding of the verse is incorrect. This verse describes a scriptural condemnation of transvestite practices I would assume and women's trouser design have always maintained a more feminine look that is easily distinguishable from men's trouser design. Moreover, women in biblical times would have been wearing trousers that were both fashionable and in keeping with this particular gender description.

If you would like to hear the full debate just click the link below:


  1. To correct your report - Mrs Adewole was not dismissed by her employer - she is still employed by them.

  2. Thank you I have amended the posting.