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EU courts okays employers’ right to ban hijab in workplaces

By Sewe Ishola

Employers will be able to ban  their Muslim staff from wearing headscarves at work according to the latest ruling of  the European Court of Justice.

The court said that companies were able to ban “the visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign”.

However, the ban must be based on internal company rules requiring all employees to “dress neutrally,” and if it was only applied to Muslim members of staff, it could still constitute as “direct discrimination.” It also cannot be banned on behalf of a customer.

The ruling was prompted by the case of two women, one in Belgium and one in France, who were dismissed from work for refusing to remove their headscarves.

Samira Achbita, a receptionist for Belgian security company G4S, lost her job after she began wearing a headscarf to work and refused to take it off, claiming she was being discriminated on the grounds of her religion.

In the second case, design engineer Asma Bougnaoui was fired from consultancy company Micropole, after a customer complained about her wearing of the Islamic headscarf.

Ms Bougnaoui – who had refused to stop wearing her veil – had taken her case to the Court of Cassation in France.

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