Veteran British retailer Marks & Spencer confirmed that Jewish staff can refuse to sell pork products to customers on religious grounds after earlier giving permission to Muslim staff to decline selling pork or alcohol to shoppers.
“We recognize that some of our employees practice religions that restrict food or drink they can handle, or mean they cannot work at certain times,” a spokesman for the store was quoted as saying in a report from the Jewish Chronicle on Sunday. In addition, Jewish staff could also opt out of working on Saturdays, the spokesperson noted.
The ruling came the day after the Daily Telegraph reported that company policy allowed Muslim staff to refuse to serve customers pork sausages, bacon rashers, seafood or alcohol items and instead ask shoppers to join another checkout line.
However, the seasonal goodwill policy was unlikely to help calm the bitter response from outraged customers who peppered the company’s Facebook page with criticism over its accommodation for Muslim employees at the expense of its customers. Many called for a boycott of the chain in favor of competing retailers.
Marks & Spencer was founded in the late 19th century by Jewish immigrant Michael Marks and Thomas Spencer. The company has over 700 stores across Britain, where it is a household name, and hundreds more around the word.