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Current Affairs

EU court allows employers to ban headscarves at work

Date: 24 July 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

The European Union’s top court has given a judgment upholding the rights of companies to prevent women from wearing headscarves for work.

 

Background

Many countries have banned use of headscarves in public places citing security risks after many terrorists were observed using it to hide their face.

 

Details

  • The move has been opposed by many Islamic nations as well as human rights activists. They consider it a part of Islamophobia.

  • The European Court of Justice has not banned headscarves alone but all symbols that are part of political and religious belief.

  • The court has asked all countries in the bloc to specify if the companies feel there is a genuine need to ban markers of religion.

 

Ruling of court

  • The court was deciding on separate petitions filed by Muslim women of Germany, who were suspended from work for wearing hijabs.

  • The petitioners were not wearing hijabs when they started their work but adopted it after they came back from parental leave.

  • The court observed that companies barring all symbols of political and religious beliefs were not considered discriminatory as it applied to all sections.

  • The final decision to decide if discrimination did take place is left to the courts in Germany. This is significant since many cases related to religious symbols are pending.

 

Previous stances

A similar judgment was given by ECJ in 2017 when it gave companies the right to decide if they want to ban religious symbolism from workplaces. It had created an outcry in Germany.

 

Incidents across Europe

  • Countries like France have banned religious scarves in workplaces, especially in schools to uphold neutral environment. Girls below 18 years are banned from wearing hijab in public.

  • Austria, Netherlands and Belgium have banned wearing of complete face coverings in public places. However, hijab is not included.