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Jewish woman awarded £16k in damages from car rental firm over Shabbat row

June 16 2015

A Jewish woman has won a £16,000 payout from a car rental firm which rejected her job application because her religion prevents her from working Saturdays.

The Manchester Evening News reports that Aurelie Fhima was given a face-to-face interview by Manchester-based Travel Jigsaw but her application was turned down because she revealed that she observes Shabbat.

Shabbat is the Jewish day of rest which lasts from sundown on Friday until sunset on Saturday and prevents work of any kind.

However, Travel Jigsaw bosses said in a letter sent to her after the interview: “After careful consideration we cannot offer you a position at this time. We are still looking for people who are flexible enough to work Saturdays.”

Ms Fhima, 23, requested the firm to review its decision and, when it refused, launched legal action – claiming indirect discrimination on grounds of religion.

Employment tribunal judges found in her favour – awarding almost £8,000 for loss of earnings, £7,500 for injury to feelings and £1,200 in fees.

Ms Fhima, who lives off Bury New Road, in Salford, received a call from the operations recruiter at Travel Jigsaw after sending in her CV.

He explained the shifts were between 7am and 11am from Monday to Saturday but employees always got two days a week off.

When she later challenged the decision to turn down her application, the firm claimed she lied about her ability to work Saturdays during the phone conversation and confessed to the lie during the face-to-face interview.

Ms Fhima denied this and said the way the company acted was ‘devastating’.

A spokesman for the business told the Manchester Evening News: “The company is extremely disappointed with the judgement in this case that was brought by an unsuccessful job applicant, and in the way in which the case was presented to the tribunal.

“Travel Jigsaw employs an extremely diverse workforce with colleagues representing 65 nationalities.”