• Thursday, May 23, 2024


Discrimination case against hospital dismissed

A hijab-wearing doctor had accused her managers at Airedale General Hospital of religious discrimination and racial profiling

Picture for representation (iStock)

By: Shajil Kumar

An employment tribunal in Leeds has cleared a hospital in West Yorkshire of religious discrimination and racial profiling accusations made by a consultant doctor, according to media reports.

Fahrat Butt, an ophthalmology specialist, who wears a hijab and covers everything other than her hands, feet and face while in public — claimed that managers at Airedale General Hospital “bullied” her into exposing her forearms.

Butt told the tribunal that she had stepped into a hospital corridor that she believed was a non-clinical area where a “bare below the elbow” hygiene policy need not be observed.

Her managers challenged her and an altercation broke out. Butt later filed a case against the trust.

Butt works at a trust in Bradford, but spends a day in a week as visiting consultant at the Airedale hospital.

The hospital staff has to follow the bare below the elbows norm to ensure hand hygiene.

Butt argued before the tribunal that there was “no clear definition” of non-clinical and clinical areas at the hospital.

She used to adhere to bare below the elbows rule in what she considered to be a clinical area, and roll down her sleeves on leaving the area.

The tribunal was told that Butt was “challenged” by other doctors for not having her sleeves rolled up in 2022, because a Care Quality Commission inspection team was expected.

Butt was upset because she believed she was complying with the policy and had an altercation with other doctors.

Tribunal judge Kirsty Ayre ruled that Butt was challenged by her colleagues “not because of religion” and she had not suffered any discriminatory behaviour.

“Not everything that happens in the workplace to a Muslim worker will be related to religion,” Ayre said, adding that Butt had herself claimed religion was not discussed.

The tribunal, however, acknowledged that the situation was not handled well by either party, leading to escalation.

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