Muslim sues Tesco for forcing him to carry alcohol

September 29th, 2008 - 5:17 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Sep 29 (IANS) A Muslim youth who worked with Britain’s biggest retailer Tesco has sued the store for religious discrimination after he came to know that he carried crates of alcohol bottles as part of his job, the Daily Mail reported Monday.Mohammed Ahmed, 32, who was raised in Saudi Arabia, had worked in a distribution depot of Tesco for eight months before quitting “in protest”, the newspaper said.

Ahmed, who lives in Derby in the East Midlands of England, said that he was forced to leave the job because “handling beer, spirits and wine is against his strict Islamic beliefs and that he was victimised when he asked the company to give him another role”.

He told an employment tribunal in Birmingham that he had no idea his job entailed handling alcohol when he started work last September at the depot in Lichfield, Staffordshire.

When he realised he was doing something against his religion, he asked his employer for a change but one of his supervisors told him: “You do the job or go home.”

According to the tribunal, the problem worsened in November and December when extra alcohol arrived at the warehouse in readiness for Christmas.

Ahmed claimed he lodged an official grievance with the company, but as a result he had to undergo various “harassment” by his superiors.

However, Laura Canham, the company’s solicitor, said that it was still unrealistic for Ahmed to say he had no idea what his duties would be.

“He was advised at the outset what the job would entail. At no stage did he raise the fact he could not handle alcohol,” Canham told the tribunal.

She also denied the allegations that the company discriminated against Ahmed and said: “It would be reasonable to expect him to be aware of what Tesco did.”

A spokesman for Tesco, whose 63-million-pound Lichfield depot has around 1,000 workers, said: “Managers are trained to be culturally sensitive and have an open-door policy to staff for issues like this, as everyone is welcome to work at Tesco.”

The tribunal will hear the case later this week.

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