UK’s Marks and Spencer apologises after Muslim worker refused to sell alcohol
Retailer Marks and Spencer apologised on Monday to customers angered after a Muslim checkout worker refused to sell champagne for religious reasons.
Thousands of customers threatened to boycott M&S, Britain’s biggest clothing retailer that also sells food, after a till worker in a London store asked a customer to wait as she would not handle champagne and called for another staff member.
Following a storm of protests on social media, M&S apologised for the “confusion”, saying it was not M&S’s policy to allow checkout staff to refuse to serve customers buying items like alcohol and pork which are forbidden in Islam.
A spokeswoman said the company’s policy for many years had been to try to accommodate staff of all religions by finding them roles where conflicts would not arise.
“On this occasion this person’s preferences were not taken into account and she ended up on the tills, which was a mistake,” the spokeswoman said. “We would like to apologise for any resulting confusion and reassure our customers that this was an isolated incident.”
Despite the apology, angry customers vented on M&S’s Facebook page, some calling on people to boycott the retailer and questioning whether other religions would get such leeway.