July 15, 2021 (AFP): The European Union’s (EU) top court on Thursday ruled that companies could ban Muslim employees from wearing headscarves under certain conditions, in two cases brought by Muslim women in Germany who were suspended for wearing Islamic clothing while at work.
The court said that a ban on wearing any form of expression of any political, philosophical or religious belief in the workplace may be justified by the employer’s need to portray neutral image to consumers or social conflicts.
“However, this justification must be in accordance with a real need from the employer and, in order to reconcile rights and interests in the matter, the national courts must take into account the specific context of their member state, especially the more appropriate national provisions for freedom of religious expression.”
In a 2017 ruling, an EU court in Luxembourg had already ruled that companies could ban staff from wearing Islamic headscarves and other visible religious symbols under certain conditions. At the time, it provoked a strong reaction from religious groups.
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