EU COURT OF JUSTICE RULED THAT HIJAB CAN BE BANNED AT WORK

The European Court of Justice ruled on 15th July. that hijab can be banned at work joining Cases C-804/18 and C-341/19 WABE and MH Müller Handel, specifying that employers have the right to ban a Muslim woman from wearing hijab in her job by claiming that this does not correspond with the policy of political, philosophical and religious neutrality and to avoid social disputes. 

 

An employer asked a woman employee to remove that headscarf and, following her refusal, temporarily suspended her from her duties on two occasions and gave her a warning. 

 

Another employer did the same and, following her refusal to remove that headscarf at her workplace, first transferred her to another post in which she could wear that headscarf and then, after sending her home, instructed her to attend her workplace without conspicuous, large-sized signs of any political, philosophical or religious beliefs. It is necessary to specify that one of them works as a special needs carer and the other as a sales assistant and cashier. 

 

The national courts in the leading cases referred questions to the Court of Justice concerning the interpretation of Directive 2000/78 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation, asking if by prohibiting workers from wearing any visible sign of political, philosophical or religious beliefs in the workplace, constitutes, about workers who observe specific clothing rules based on religious precepts, direct or indirect discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief and that in what circumstances a difference of treatment indirectly based on religion or belief resulting from that rule may be justified and what elements must be taken into consideration in examining the appropriateness of such a difference of treatment.

 

The Court clarified that the prohibition of wearing hijab at work does not constitute direct discrimination based on religion or belief since that prohibition applies to all religions. However, it is clear discrimination and limitation of freedom of choice and expression.

 

The CJEU, in response, lays down the circumstances in which a difference of treatment indirectly based on religion or belief resulting from such an internal rule may be justified.

 

It ruled that “A prohibition on wearing any visible form of expression of political, philosophical or religious beliefs in the workplace may be justified by the employer’s need to present a neutral image towards customers or to prevent social disputes”. 

 

“However, that justification must correspond to a genuine need on the part of the employer and, in reconciling the rights and interests at issue, the national courts may take into account the specific context of their Member State and, in particular, more favourable national provisions on the protection of freedom of religion”.

 

There is no justification for that discrimination! It is only necessary to see the disproportionality between the principle of neutrality and freedom of choosing what you want to be, what you want to wear and express yourself and the prohibition of difference in treatment to see that this judgement is not what we were expecting.

 

The way someone wears, express or think, in the limit of respect of the other, should not be used as a limitation. 

 

Why the way someone wear should import us? Or create social disputes? Why we should discriminate against someone for their religious, political or philosophical beliefs? How much interpretation can come from the ECJ? Where is the freedom and respect and of fundamental rights? We need to stop any form of image policing and superficiality. No one has the right to tell us what we can or cannot wear.

 

It is time to learn how to respect and accept all the different religions, cultures and traditions. That is the actual reality of our society and part of us.

 

Totally shocking and morally unacceptable and does not represent our values and specifically the fundamental right of non-discrimination in Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. That is clearly discrimination and limitation of freedom.

 

Everyone, no matter their religion, ideology, philosophical or political beliefs, must be respected everywhere.

 

[1] https://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2021-07/cp210128en.pdf

 

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