Hijab Wearers Can Fired From Work EU Court Rules

Jesse Williams

By Jesse Williams

Jesse Williams

17 Jul 2021

The European Union’s highest court has produced a landmark ruling that allows workplaces to ban visible symbols of religious or political belief.

The ruling comes from two cases brought by women in Germany who were suspended from their jobs for wearing one.

The EU Court of Justice decided in both cases whether headscarf bans at work did not represent a violation of the freedom to practise religion and rather that they infringed on the employers freedom to conduct business.

“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.

“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.”

The decision means workplaces will be able to dismiss staff if they continue to wear a hijab or other religious or political clothing and if they are able to justify the prohibition.

National courts now have the final say on whether there was any discrimination.

This ruling continues an unfavourable recent history with the law for Muslims EU states. The EU court ruled in 2017 that companies may ban staff from wearing Islamic headscarves and other visible religious symbols under certain conditions.