A shopper trying to buy a bottle of champagne from a Muslim clerk at the grocery store Marks & Spencer was told to go to another register because it’s against her religion.
M&S recently changed its policy to allow Muslim staff to refuse the sale of alcohol and pork to customers, if they do not wish to handle the items.
At one store last week, a Muslim clerk had customers wait until another register could be opened.
Religious guidelines for big food retailers have become a hot topic since retailer Sainsbury issued official guidelines stating there is no reason why staff can’t handle the goods if they are not being asked to imbibe them.
“I had one bottle of champagne, and the lady, who was wearing a headscarf, was very apologetic but said she could not serve me,” an M&S customer told The Mirror.
"She told me to wait until another member of staff was available,” she said of the M&S worker. “I was taken aback. I was a bit surprised. I’ve never come across that before.”
“We recognize that some of our employees practice religions that restrict the food or drink they can handle, or that mean they cannot work at certain times,” said a spokesman for the store. “M&S promotes an environment free from discrimination and so, where specific requests are made, we will always make reasonable adjustments to accommodate them, whilst ensuring high levels of customer service.”
A 2005 report from the Muslim Council for Britain advised Muslim employees to speak with managers if they feel uncomfortable handing certain items.
“If you feel that you cannot handle pork as a Muslim, then you should discuss this with your manager,” the report said. “A policy that all staff must work in the meat section of the supermarket may amount to indirect discrimination since it disadvantages Muslims. Your employer should try and accommodate your request where possible.”