Employers can ban staff from wearing headscarves, European court rules

European court of justice says ban on visible wearing of political, philosophical or religious sign does not constitute direct discrimination

Employers may bar staff from wearing visible religious symbols, the EU’s highest court has ruled in its first decision on the issue of women wearing Islamic headscarves at work.

But customers cannot simply demand that workers remove headscarves if the company has no policy barring religious symbols, the court ruled on Tuesday.

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 European court of justice (ECJ) gave a joint judgment in the cases of two women, in France and Belgium, who were dismissed for refusing to remove headscarves.

“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.

“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.”

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Source By https://www.theguardian.com

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