EU’s top court lets employers ban headscarves and other religious symbols at work

NTD Staff
By NTD Staff
March 14, 2017World News
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Employers may bar staff from wearing visible religious symbols, the European Union’s top court ruled on Tuesday (March 14) in its first decision on the issue of women wearing Islamic headscarves at work.

On the eve of a Dutch election in which Muslim immigration has been a key issue and a bellwether for attitudes to migration and refugee policies across Europe, the Court of Justice (ECJ) gave a joined judgment in the cases of two women, in France and Belgium, who were dismissed for refusing to remove headscarves.

One was the case of a Belgian woman, Samira Achbita, working as a receptionist for G4S Secure Solutions, which has a general ban on wearing visible religious or political symbols. The court’s ruling also covered a French IT consultant who was told to remove her headscarf after a client complained.

“An internal rule of an undertaking which prohibits the visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign does not constitute direct discrimination,” the Court said in a statement.

“However, in the absence of such a rule, the willingness of an employer to take account of the wishes of a customer no longer to have the employer’s services provided by a worker wearing an Islamic headscarf cannot be considered an occupational requirement that could rule out discrimination.”

The Islamic headscarf is a contentious issue in several European countries, notably France, which attaches importance to the separation of state and religious institutions and where the anti-immigration far-right National Front party is seen performing strongly in an election this spring.
(REUTERS)

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