ALDI Supermarket Questioned Over ‘No Alcohol’ Till Sign
The changes in UK religious demographics have brought about a new set of challenges for retailers in recent years.
Stories of Muslim employees refusing to sell alcohol and pork products whilst working for non-religious supermarkets are not uncommon. Back in 2016 I also reported on taxi drivers refusing to take passengers with guide dogs for ‘religious reasons’. This ended in perpetrators being fined for breaching equality laws.
It’s no shock to hear of people making unreasonable requests due to their faith, it’s just surprising to me when their employers say “yes”.
It has been suggested that religious beliefs may be behind the below situation snapped by a Twitter user in an Aldi supermarket in the UK:
The sign reads: ‘NO ALCOHOL IS ABLE TO BE SERVED ON THIS TILL. SORRY FOR ANY INCONVENIENCE’
It’s possible that this particular employee may simply be too young to sell alcohol of course, as you must be 18 or over to do so in the UK. However the responses from the official Aldi Twitter page appear to suggest a personal requirement was met, rather than a legal one:
Businesses are free to set their operating rules and tweak them however they see fit of course. And I believe a good employer is one that is accommodating of its staff’s needs – where they are reasonable and balanced.
For instance, I can foresee no reason why an employer would want to ban religious headdress, or prevent a staff member from using a spare meeting room to pray on their break etc. This isn’t about making people unhappy, it’s about ensuring all employees are treated fairly.
It’s also about fulfilling your job description and its related duties. If your beliefs prevent you from doing that, then it is your beliefs that must take a backseat, not the business model.
When we move into the realm of placating religious dogmas, it becomes a tricky area as well as a slippery slope. Especially when it is to the detriment of service. This is also in clear conflict with the job description attached to the employment contract they signed. How do this gentleman’s colleagues feel, having to pick up the slack of processing more customers?
I wonder how accommodating Aldi would be of a vegetarian employee requesting to forgo the sale of meat?
If this does turn out to be an accommodation of religious belief, it demonstrates a clear reduction in service in favour of upholding conservative religious dogmas. It is religious privilege in the workplace masquerading as progressivism.
This is hardly the most important struggle of our day, but religious privilege must be challenged in all its forms. Religious dogmas should be brought in line with 21st century British trading norms – not the other way around.
I don’t hope for religious people (or anyone) to be persecuted in the workplace. I just expect them to do the job they are paid for. Like everyone else.
I have reached out to Aldi for comment and will update this story with any new developments.
What do you think? Leave your comments below.