Supermarket chain Tesco rushed to apologize after a Muslim employee refused to serve ham and wine to a customer, saying he was observing Ramadan. The customer, Julie Cottle, immediately complained to the supermarket’s branch manager after the employee refused to serve her and led her to the self-service counter instead. The branch manager sided with the employee and asked Cottle to use the self-checkout as well.
Cottle said, “He pointed at the ham and wine in my basket and said ‘I can’t serve you that because I’m fasting.’ When I told him he should be serving customers, not turning them away, he still refused, telling me to go to the self-service. I was furious…. I’m disgusted. If he is refusing to do his job he shouldn’t be there,” she said.
Refusing to give up, Cottle got in touch with the supermarket’s customer services, telling them that the employee ought to face some disciplinary action for his unprofessional behavior.
In response to the incident, a spokesman for Tesco said, “We’re here to serve our customers the products they choose to buy. We don’t have a specific policy and take a pragmatic approach if a colleague raises concerns about a job they have been asked to do. We apologize to our customer for any inconvenience on this occasion.”
While the supermarket reassured Cottle that they would “speak” to the employee about his conduct, they also mentioned that he would not be fired. According to the Muslim Association of Britain, while Muslims are expected to abstain during Ramadan, they are not prohibited from serving people of other faiths ham or wine.
This incident at Tesco comes right after Muslim employees at Marks & Spencer were told by their authorities that they can refuse to serve customers alcohol as well as pork products if they so wish to. That announcement drew a lot of criticism from arch-atheist Richard Dawkins.
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