The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on Thursday ruled that companies in the EU can ban headscarves (hijab) as long as it is a general prohibition and does not directly discriminate against employees.
“The internal rule of an undertaking prohibiting the visible wearing of religious, philosophical or spiritual signs does not constitute direct discrimination if it is applied to all workers in a general and undifferentiated way,” judges said.
This case was regarding a Muslim woman who was told by a Belgian company that she cannot wear her headscarf during her six-week work traineeship, said a Reuters report. However, the company asserts this was in line with its neutrality rule which does not allow any head covering, whether a cap, beanie or scarf of any kind.
Subsequently, the woman went to a Belgian court, which then sought counsel from the Luxembourg-based CJEU. This was following their other ruling in 2021 which said that EU companies could ban employees from wearing a hijab in certain conditions, in order to project image neutrality, said the report.
In several EU countries like Germany and France, headscarf ban has become a point of contention, as the former country has banned hijabs for women at work and has been debated upon mostly in relation to aspiring teachers at state schools and trainee judges. While France, which is also home to the largest Muslim population in Europe, has banned the hijab in state schools since 2004.
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