Companies in Europe can ban women from wearing headscarves on the job. The ruling, which came from the European Union’s top court said this can be done under certain conditions; if they need to do so to project an image of neutrality to customers.
“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.
The case was brought before the Luxembourg-based EU Court of Justice (CJEU) by two Muslim women in Germany who were suspended from their jobs for wearing a headscarf. One of the women is a special-needs carer at a childcare centre in Hamburg. The other was a cashier at the Mueller drugstore chain. Both did not wear their headscarves when they started their jobs but decided to do so after returning from parental leave.
They were told that this was not permitted. Both women were suspended at different times and told to come to work without it or find a different job.
However, it will be up to national courts to have the final say on whether there was any discrimination.