Employers can ban headscarves from workplaces, European court rules

Employers can ban headscarves from workplaces, European court rules

Employers can ban headscarves from workplaces, European court rules

However, the ECJ also ruled that the ban can not simply be introduced at the request of a customer, or exclusively apply to religious apparel from one faith. Is it discriminatory or not?

The ruling came after a long-running case concerning a Muslim woman in Belgium who was dismissed by G4S "because of her continuing insistence on wearing the Islamic headscarf at work" despite a G4S rule that employees are "prohibited, in the workplace, from wearing any visible signs of their political, philosophical or religious beliefs".

The claim: The ruling by the EU's top court could exclude many Muslim women from the workplace.

In the Belgian case, the ECJ ruling says that because the company's work appearance rules were written and shared among employees the action was justified. In many countries such as the United Kingdom where there is no strong tradition of religious and political neutrality, G4S permits the wearing of religious dress such as Islamic headscarves'. She had worn the headscarf when she was hired in 2008, but a client subsequently complained to her supervisors, insisting that there be "no veil next time".

In April 2006, the woman informed her employee that she meant to wear the veil at work. The company asked her not to wear it in the future, as respect to their policy of "neutrality".

Last week, officials in the northern Italian region of Liguria announced plans to ban women from wearing the Islamic niqab in hospitals and public offices.

The decision lets companies tell their employees to remove signs of religious faith - as long as they do the same for employees of all religions.

Rights group Amnesty International called the rulings "disappointing". Hence, the human rights organization has tapped into the pulse of other activists.

Manfred Weber, head of the European People's Party, the biggest in the European Parliament, welcomed the latest ruling as a victory for European values. There was no internal rule at Micropole, the employer, regarding headscarves.

They ruled that the prohibition of wearing any visible political or religious symbols does not constitute direct discrimination.

The company reportedly updated its workplace regulations after the woman started wearing a hijab. This right was established in 2005 in the General Equal Treatment Act, which is supposed to protect people from discrimination due to their ethnic origin or religion.

For example, the ECJ left it the Belgian domestic court to ascertain whether or not, rather than dismissing the claimant, the employer in Achbita could have offered her a job that did not involve contact with customers.

In fact, on different occasions, German courts have already ruled for and against wearing headscarves.

Germany recently overturned a state ban on teachers wearing hijabs in schools, after years of legal dispute. In the states of Schleswig-Holstein or Rhineland-Palatinate, it is permitted to do so, whereas in Bavaria and Berlin, teachers can not wear headscarves, kippahs or large crosses around their necks. It is a huge relief, not only to thousands of companies but also their employees.

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