EU’s top court says this is not dis­crim­i­na­tion

New Straits Times - - World - LUX­EM­BOURG

EM­PLOY­ERS may bar staff from wear­ing vis­i­ble reli­gious sym­bols, the Euro­pean Union’s top court ruled yes­ter­day in its first de­ci­sion on the is­sue of women wear­ing head­scarves (hijab) at work.

On the eve of a Dutch elec­tion, in which Mus­lim im­mi­gra­tion has been a key is­sue and a bell­wether for at­ti­tudes to mi­gra­tion and refugee poli­cies across Europe, the Court of Jus­tice gave a joint judg­ment in the cases of two women, in France and Bel­gium, who were dis­missed for re­fus­ing to re­move head­scarves.

“An in­ter­nal rule of an un­der­tak­ing which pro­hibits the vis­i­ble wear­ing of any po­lit­i­cal, philo­soph­i­cal or reli­gious sign does not con­sti­tute di­rect dis­crim­i­na­tion,” the court said.

“How­ever, in the ab­sence of such a rule, the will­ing­ness of an em­ployer to take ac­count of the wishes of a cus­tomer to no longer to have the em­ployer’s ser­vices pro­vided by a worker wear­ing an Is­lamic head­scarf can­not be con­sid­ered an oc­cu­pa­tional re­quire­ment that could rule out dis­crim­i­na­tion.”

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