Top EU lawyer backs work headscarf ban

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The most senior lawyer at the EU’s top court has said that companies may ban headscarfs if a general prohibition on religious symbols in the workplace is enforced.

According to an AFP report, a Belgian woman working as a receptionist for security firm G4S Secure Solutions was fired after she insisted on wearing a headscarf for religious reasons.

“A ban on wearing headscarves in companies may be admissible,” advocate general, Juliane Kokott's ruling said, she added that the company was under no oblication to find the woman a back office job.

“If the ban is based on a general company rule which prohibits political, philosophical and religious symbols from being worn visibly in the workplace, such a ban may be justified if it enables the employer to pursue the legitimate policy of ensuring religious and ideological neutrality.”

The European Court of Justice usually follows the advice of the senior lawyer, though reports say the opinion is not binding.

“While an employee cannot 'leave' his sex, skin colour, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age or disability 'at the door' upon entering his employer's premises, he may be expected to moderate the exercise of his religion in the workplace,” Kokott said.

Samira Achbita had been working for the company for three years when she insisted on wearing the headscarf but was dismissed because the firm prohibits the wearing of any visible religious, political and philosophical symbols.

Achbita was backed by a Belgian racial equality organisation when she went to court over the company's decision to fire her.  But the case was dismissed by two lower courts before the court of cassation referred it to the EU’s top court to seek clarification on discrimination laws.

It’s been an ongoing and heavy debate in Europe with a ban on full-face veils being introduced in France in 2010, despite claims it violate freedom of expression and religion.
  • Chris Scott on 10/06/2016 10:50:46 AM

    Odie, according to Charlie, the poor transport solutions executive, Magna, was executed in Europe, for reasons unstated.
    How would Charlie feel if my religion dictated that clothing was a work of the devil and strictly forbidden?

  • Odie on 7/06/2016 1:25:26 PM

    Magna 'Carter'? Who is this great person who drives a cart and how is it that he/she/it is relevant?

    By the way, the decision is sound.

    Well you might claim freedom of religion but what of freedom from religion?

  • Charlie Atlas on 1/06/2016 5:10:08 PM

    Wow I see somebody has stated that it was a good decision. So be it we are entitled to our own opinions, but we are not entitled to is our own set of facts. The fact of the matter being the Magna Carter was drafted and executed in Europe, most other pieces of Human Rights laws have also been developed from the Magna Carter to this present day from Europe. Including freedom of religion, freedom of expression. Now what the EU is suggesting is that those freedoms are qualified freedoms if you choose to identify with one faith or another and your employer doesn't want you to, and so long as they enforce the law against the board like banning people wearing a Collander on their heads if they happen to be a member of the church of the flying spaghetti monster as well crosses and hijabs then it's ok.

    How does that reconcile with freedom of religion and or freedom of expression ? That to me appears very hypocritical and makes a mockery out of Human Rights laws and Justice Systems across the board.

  • Jennifer Pierno on 1/06/2016 1:26:41 PM

    Good decision.

  • Nikita Robertson on 1/06/2016 12:18:23 PM

    This is legally supporting intolerance and is the wrong approach.

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