Loreta Tavoraite (35- pictured), who is originally from Lithuania, began working in a Dunnes Stores in Ballincollig in Cork in July 2007.
She later converted to Islam and for religious reasons wanted to wear a hijab — a headscarf that covers the hair, leaving the face exposed — at work.
Ms Tavoraite, of Parknamore in Ballincollig, is suing Dunnes, of 46-50 South Great George’s Street, Dublin, for unfair dismissal. An Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) in Cork was told yesterday that staff at Dunnes wear a standard uniform.
Her solicitor Patrick Horan said his client was told she “couldn’t come to work wearing a hijab”.
“As far as she was concerned, being a devout Muslim, you must wear a hijab. It’s an obligation,” said Mr Horan.
“Her view was I’m ready to work. I want to work, but because of my religion I have to wear a hijab.”
In October 2010 Ms Tavoraite met with Bill Farrell, store manager at the Ballincollig store, and the human resources manager.
She explained her religion involved covering her head with a hat or scarf while in public.
Mr Farrell told Ms Tavoraite that her religion was her own business and her business only.
Ms Tavoraite was repeatedly advised by the company that they wanted her to return to work but she never did.
At meeting in early November 2010, she was informed that if she continued not coming to work they would have to consider her contract and that it might be terminated.
She was dismissed from her position on November 6, 2010.
Asked by Mr Horan what would happen if a member of staff came into work wearing a chain and cross, Mr Farrell said he had never encountered such a situation.
The hearing continues.