M&S apology over Muslim alcohol refusal

 

The bosses of Asda and John Lewis discuss their policy on Muslim staff

Related Stories

Marks & Spencer has apologised after a Muslim member of staff refused to serve a customer trying to buy alcohol.

The retailer said it usually tried to assign "suitable roles" to staff who could not handle certain items because of their religious beliefs.

It said this policy had not been followed in a case highlighted by the Telegraph over the weekend.

Consuming alcohol is forbidden in Islam, and some Muslims refuse to handle it at all.

An unnamed customer told the newspaper they had tried to buy a bottle of champagne from an M&S store in London, but the member of staff "was very apologetic but said she could not serve me" and asked the customer to use another till.

A spokesperson for M&S said: "Where we have an employee whose religious beliefs restrict food or drink they can handle, we work closely with our member of staff to place them in suitable role, such as in our clothing department or bakery in foods.

'Beyond common sense'

"As a secular business we have an inclusive policy that welcomes all religious beliefs, whether across our customer or employee base... We apologise that this policy was not followed in the case reported."

But Khola Hasan, an Islamic law consultant, told Radio 4's Today programme she thought the M&S employee's refusal to serve the customer was "ridiculous".

"I don't think the Islamic ruling is being so difficult that Muslims cannot cope in society," she said, adding that Muslims could in theory object on religious grounds to serving customers buying any kind of meat, or items like cake or chocolate that contain small amounts of alcohol.

Other retailers said they would work with their employees on a case-by-case basis, to let Muslims avoid handling alcohol or pork, and would allow similar exceptions for other religions.

Asda chief executive Andy Clarke told BBC Breakfast: "We don't have a policy. If a colleague raises an issue with us, of course we'll deal with them on an individual basis, but we don't have a policy."

But speaking to Radio 5 live's On The Money programme on Sunday, Andy Street, managing director of John Lewis, said the company did not have a similar policy, and questioned whether members of staff should have the right to refuse to serve customers.

"This is taking it one stage beyond common sense," he told the programme.

"We certainly have never had any issue with our teams... we've not even had to have a policy on this. I would hope [members of staff] would understand that in their job this was probably going to be required."

 

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
 

Comments 5 of 1959

 

More Business stories

RSS

BBC Business Live

  1.  
    PORTUGUESE BANK 07:38:
    Banco Espirito Santo

    The bank that roiled the markets last week - Portugal's Banco Espirito Santo (BES) - has been told to appoint a new chief executive, reports the Financial Times. It seems the Bank of Portugal ordered BES to hold an emergency meeting on Sunday night to name Vitor Bento as the bank's new boss - described by the FT as " a respected economist and company manager".

     
  2.  
    WORLD CUP 07:33: BBC Radio 4
    German team, Brazil

    How was it for Brazil? Not on the pitch - but off it. Well, the World Cup wasn't the logistical disaster that many had predicted says the BBC's Katy Watson on Today. But Tom Cannon from Liverpool University says the tournament will leave the country deeper in the red and has not generated much long term economic legacy.

     
  3.  
    HEADLINES
     
  4.  
    SHIRE TAKEOVER BID 07:21:

    The board of UK drugs firm Shire is recommending a takeover offer from US rival AbbVie. It follows a revised offer worth £53.20 per share in cash and shares. AbbVie has raised its bid several times. It's an attractive deal for AbbVie as it can potentially dramatically reduce its tax bill.

     
  5.  
    CHOCOLATE DEAL 07:03:
    Russell Stover

    Never heard of Russell Stover? Well, according to its website, it was founded in 1923 by Clara and Russell Stover in their Denver bungalow. And it is a box of Russell Stover chocolates that leads Forrest Gump to quote his mother: "My mama always said, life was like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get."

     
  6.  
    CHOCOLATE DEAL 06:54:
    Man holding Lindt chocolate bar

    The Swiss chocolate company Lindt & Spruengli has confirmed it is buying an American firm Russell Stover Candies. The company says the deal "broadens its brand portfolio in the world's biggest chocolate marketplace" and that it is the "biggest and most important strategic acquisition in the company's history". The purchase price has not been disclosed.

     
  7.  
    BROADBAND 06:43: Radio 5 live
    Cables

    This seems hard to believe - some companies are still using a "dial-up" internet service, according to The Federation of Small Businesses. It says that UK broadband is not fit for purpose. Sue Terpilowski who runs marketing firm ImageLine tells Wake Up to Money her firm has been suffering dial up broadband speeds. Ironically her office is near London's hi-tech hub Silicon Roundabout.

     
  8.  
    CHEKHOV'S GUN 06:34: Radio 5 live

    A literary reference baffles presenter Mickey Clarke on Wake Up to Money. Markets guest Brenda Kelly says that "loose monetary policy has been something of a Chekhov's gun". "What's a Chekhov?" asks Mickey.

     
  9.  
    FARNBOROUGH AIRSHOW 06:27: BBC World News
    A330 plane

    "The A330 is a good rock solid airplane" says John Leahy, chief operating officer at Airbus on World Business Report, but he says it could be more fuel efficient. Leaner burning engines are part of the revamp that is set to be announced for the widebody passenger jet at the Farnborough Airshow this morning.

     
  10.  
    EXECUTIVE PAY 06:21:
    Boardroom graphic

    Executive pay has grown from 60 times that of the average worker to almost 180 times since the 1990s, according to the High Pay Centre. The think tank is calling on the government to take action to close the pay gap between company executives and their workers.

     
  11.  
    GLAXO CHINA 06:12:
    Glaxo Shanghai

    The Chinese authorities have formally charged a British businessman and his American wife for illegally obtaining and selling private information. Peter Humphrey and Yingzeng Yu were arrested last year in connection with a wider investigation into the British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline. The couple, who run a corporate investigation company, were employed by GlaxoSmithKline last year.

     
  12.  
    SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE 06:08: Radio 5 live

    More from Sir Tom Hunter, he tells Wake Up to Money that Scotland's entrepreneurial spirit was "pretty much extinguished" by mining, steel making and ship building. He believes that children need to be encouraged to be entrepreneurial at school.

     
  13.  
    SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE 06:07: Radio 5 live

    Wake Up to Money is in Aberdeen and interviews one of Scotland's richest men, Sir Tom Hunter. He says that politicians are doing voters a "disservice" in the independence debate by providing two completely different answers over what would happen to the pound if Scotland were to leave the union.

     
  14.  
    CURRENCY MARKET INVESTIGATION 06:01:
    canary wharf

    US prosecutors are offering immunity deals to junior traders in London as part of their investigation into manipulation of the currency markets, according to the lead story in this morning's Financial Times. The report says that junior staff have been offered the deals, in return for information about their superiors.

     
  15.  
    06:00: Emily Young, Business Reporter

    Morning all. The World Cup is over but don't worry the Farnborough Air Show has begun. We'll have updates from there throughout the morning.

     
  16.  
    06:00: Ben Morris Business Reporter

    Is British broadband a bit feeble? The Federation for Small Business thinks so and that's one of the issues under discussion this morning. Stay with the Business live page. You can emails us at bizlive@bbc.co.uk or tweet @bbcbusiness.

     

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.