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Retailer Marks & Spencer has apologised after despondent customers took to Facebook to hit back at the company’s decision to allow Muslim staff to refuse the sale of pork and alcohol.
Customers at a London branch of M&S were told last week they would have to use another till because the assistant was not able to serve them pork or alcohol due to religious beliefs.
A customer, who wished not to be named, said: “I had one bottle of champagne, and the lady, who was wearing a headscarf, was very apologetic but said she could not serve me. She told me to wait until another member of staff was available.”
M&S initially said Muslim staff who do not wish to handle alcohol or pork can politely decline to do so.
“We recognise that some of our employees practice religions that restrict the food or drink they can handle, or that mean they cannot work at certain times,” said a spokesman.
After a backlash on the M&S Facebook group, the retailer released an apology.
A spokesperson for M&S said its service was “not delivered to our usual standards”.
M&S have now changed their decision to allow staff to refuse to serve customers.
“M&S offers an inclusive, secular environment for employees and customers working closely with any employee with religious beliefs of any denomination that restrict specific food or drink handling,” continued the spokesman, adding: “We aim to manage this so that all employees work in departments that allow them to offer great customer service at all times.”
In practice, this may lead to some employees working in departments where conflict over products is unlikely to occur.