Ana Saida, who is defending her right to wear the hijab. | Joan Torres

6

Ana Saida Rodríguez, who works for Acciona at the airport, has taken the company to court over her right to wear a hijab veil and in defence of her religious freedom.

Acciona representatives told a hearing that the company has not engaged in discriminatory practices - Ana Saida has been sanctioned on seven occasions - as it applied the same dress code to all its staff. The prosecution service considers that there has been a violation of basic rights. It had held off on making any announcement prior to the hearing but then offered its view, having listened to the evidence from both parties.

Ana Saida told the court that she was taken on nine years ago by the invoicing section at Acciona's handling services at Son Sant Joan. Her religious views developed over time, and in December 2015 she wore the veil at work. Her superiors consulted the company's central administration and she was advised that the veil represented a serious modification of uniform and that she could not wear it.

She challenged this instruction, asserting that the veil was part of her identity. Acciona reacted by initiating a series of disciplinary proceedings, which resulted in suspension of employment and salary. The court heard that the company has a strict dress code which also prohibits piercings and tattoos. Various witnesses, though, said that the company had been flexible on such issues and not imposed any penalties.

The lawyer for Acciona maintained that the rules were the same for all staff and that Ana Saida had sought to unilaterally impose her own conditions. She added that a purpose of the company's dress code was to ensure a professional image.

Margarita Muntaner, representing Ana Saida, presented a psychologist's report which suggested that the company's actions had caused stress and harm. The lawyer also demanded that more than 4,000 euros of salary (payments that have been suspended) should be paid to her client. She also made a claim against Acciona for moral damages. Ana Saida, meanwhile, is not actively employed but continues to have a "fijo discontinuo" contract with Acciona.

Ana Saida told the court that she hoped her case would set a precedent, explaining that there are other women in the same situation as herself who have not dared to take the same step because of problems that their religion creates in finding work.