Europe’s top court has ruled that Employers are entitled to ban workers from the “visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign” including headscarves, but the ban must be based on internal company rules requiring all employees to “dress neutrally”, said the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
It cannot be based on the wishes of a customer, it said. It is the court’s first decision on the issue of Islamic headscarves at work. The ECJ’s ruling was prompted by the case of a receptionist fired for wearing a headscarf to work at the company G4S in Belgium.
Belgium’s court of cassation had referred the case to the EU’s top court for clarification after Samira Achbita was fired when after three years of employment, she began wearing a headscarf to work. She claimed she was being discriminated against on the grounds of her religion. But the company had amended workplace regulations to forbid employees “from wearing any visible signs of their political, philosophical or religious beliefs and/or from engaging in any observance of such beliefs”, the court explained in its ruling.