“The possibility of clients making an exception to their policy for Sikhs for religious reasons had not, on the evidence before us, been explored.”
Judge Stout added that Elements’ policy “places Sikhs generally, and it placed Mr Sethi himself, at a particular disadvantage because it is a fundamental tenet of the Sikh faith, to which Mr Sethi adheres, for a male to have an uncut beard.”
After being turned down by Elements, Mr Sethi has found shifts working at the five-star Savoy through another agency.
Speaking after the ruling, Mr Sethi’s barrister, Mukhtiar Singh, said: “He was deeply hurt by the decision not to recruit him and, like many Sikhs, felt duty bound to fight for justice.
“The case is important because it shows that a no-beard policy will be subject to close scrutiny by the tribunals and courts.”
Mr Singh added that he was donating his fee for the case to the aid group, Khalsa Aid.
A spokesperson for Claridge’s, The Connaught and The Berkeley said they were equal opportunity employers: “We have a number of full time and agency staff with facial hair – both for religious and personal reasons.
“We also have a number of staff who wear hijabs, turbans and other religious clothing in the workplace.”