Georgina Sarikoudis with her crucifix outside St Raphael Greek Orthodox Church in Bentleigh. Picture: Yuri Kouzmin Source: News Limited
A FORMER Qantas employee has accused the airline of banning crucifixes while allowing Muslim women to wear head scarfs.
Georgina Sarikoudis claims the airline discriminated against the Christian faith by demanding she and others discard the religious insignia.
Mrs Sarikoudis, a member of the Greek Orthodox Church, claims in tribunal documents she was subjected to "threats and ridicule" by managers who ordered her to cut off her prayer-knot bracelet and remove her necklace with a crucifix on it.
"The Qantas uniform policy allows for head scarfs by Muslim females but no allowance for the wearing of crucifixes, religious bracelets or other religious ... artefacts. Qantas staff have a religious belief other than Muslim," Mrs Sarikoudis claims.
The Ormond woman, who says she wore a crucifix during 19 years at the airline, says she was confronted after Qantas changed its uniforms late last year.
The carrier's staff dress code — which didn't change — prohibits visible necklaces and bracelets, except for medical alert purposes.
Women are allowed to wear head scarfs for "cultural, religious and medical reasons".
The former Melbourne Airport customer service agent claims she was "grilled" about her devotion to her beliefs, her reasons for wanting to wear religious symbols, and even how often she attended church.
She claims other staff — including a woman who wore rosary beads — were ordered to remove jewellery with Christian icons.
Mrs Sarikoudis, who accepted a redundancy offer earlier this year, said she refused to take off or hide the items of jewellery despite months of bullying.
"For Christians, this is our uniform. Everyone should be allowed to manifest their religion as they see fit," Mrs Sarikoudis said.
In her claim before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, Mrs Sarikoudis is demanding the airline change its uniform policy to allow "religious items of significance" to be worn, as well as an apology from her former employer.
A Qantas spokeswoman said the uniform standards didn't ban religious jewellery worn under the uniform.