The English newspaper The Telegraph revealed an outrageous situation at Marks & Spencer. Apparently employees of this department store are free to refuse selling customers alcohol. This came out after a Muslim employee asked her customers with alcohol or pork meat to wait till another cash register would open up. Her employer apologized for the inconvenience, but defended the policy by saying they don’t want to discriminate employees on religious grounds. Already many people are boycotting Marks & Spencer because of their paradoxical policy.
An eye witness of the key incident was quoted in The Telegraph: “I had one bottle of champagne. The lady, who was wearing a headscarf, was very apologetic but said she couldn’t serve me. She told me to wait until another member of staff was available. I was taken aback. I was a bit surprised. I’ve never come across that before.”
A spokesman of M&S defended the policy by saying they don’t want to discriminate employees on religious grounds. He said that Christians are not forced to work on Sundays or Jews on Saturdays. For the same reason Muslim employees can refuse to touch alcohol or pork meat.
So where to start with the flaws in this story? Well, we already explained to you how the holy book in Islam, the Quran, doesn’t prohibit alcohol and it’s prophet Muhammad was actually a moderate drinker himself. But even if religion requires people to stay abstinent, they still don’t have to drink alcohol as a checkout girl. They don’t even have to touch it since it’s safely bottled up. Just like pork meat is also well wrapped usually.
But that aside it seems rather weird that a company would discriminate customers rather than employees. A very loyal employer we have to say, but nevertheless it’s weird. It seems perfectly legal to demand in a contract or a job interview that employees behind the cash register handle all products passing by. If some people really don’t want to do this, don’t take the job. Easy as that.
Now M&S, that has more than 700 stores all over England, has a major problem. Many people have said to boycott the department store and there’s already a small Facebook protest going on. From our side we would like to point out that we have no problem with Muslims or people who chose to stay abstinent. As long as you don’t stand in our way when we do want to drink. And a store that allows it’s employees to refuse to sell us alcohol is one we don’t want to be. Marks & Spencer, you just lost yourself some customers!