A European Union top court ruled late last week that companies may ban employees from wearing the hijab headscarf under “certain conditions.” The ruling is likely to continue the escalation of controversy between Europeans and Muslim civilians.
Reuters reports the Luxembourg-based European Court Of Justice’s ruling was in response to a case brought by two Muslim women who were suspended from their jobs in Germany for wearing the traditional headscarf.
“In the cases brought to court, a special-needs carer at a childcare centre in Hamburg run by a charitable association and a cashier at the Mueller drugstore chain did not wear headscarves when they started their jobs, but decided to do so years later after returning from parental leave” reports Reuters.
The court determined bans were justified by an employer’s need to present a neutral image. “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” the court said.
As for the woman who worked at the childcare center, the court determined the rule was applied in a non-discriminatory manner as another employee was asked to remove a religious cross they wore.
The court also noted bans should be based on a genuine need on the part of the employer. “The final decision will rest on courts in Germany who have to determine if there was any discrimination or if any religious freedom laws were violated” reports Forbes.
This is just the latest in an ongoing contentious issue throughout Europe. In 2017 the EU court ruled companies can ban staff from wearing Islamic headscarves and other visible religious symbols under certain conditions.
Reuters reports “The Open Society Justice Initiative, part of the Open Society Foundations philanthropic organization founded by billionaire George Soros, said it was concerned the ruling ‘may continue to exclude many Muslim women, and those of other religious minorities, from various jobs in Europe.”