A New EU ruling makes it legal for companies to ban employees from wearing hijabs in the workplace



Advocates are enraged at a new EU ruling that makes it legal for companies to ban their employees from wearing headscarves and other religious garb.

Under the ruling by the European Court of Justice, private companies can legally prohibit any "political, philosophical or religious sign" and not be considered discriminatory.

The decision "seriously undermines the right to equality and non-discrimination," the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), a human rights advocacy group, said in a statement on Tuesday.

"This is an extremely worrying decision because it effectively bars Muslim women wearing the headscarf from the workplace," Amel Yacef, ENAR's chairperson, said. "This is nothing short of a Muslim ban applied only to women in private employment, just because of how they choose to dress according their religion."

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Life as a Muslim family in America
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Life as a Muslim family in America
STERLING, VA - JUNE 1:Tasneem Moiz, 8-months, plays in the beard of her maternal grandfather, Khalid Iqbal, at the home of Iqbal's daughter, Sadaf Iqbal, on June 1, 2011, in Sterling, VA. Ibrahim Moiz, a Muslim American of Indian descent, and Sadaf Iqbal, a Pakistani-American, are raising three daughters ranging in age from 4-years-old to 8-months-old. Moiz also acts as a mentor to a couple of teenagers, trying to bridge the gap between the ways of the teen's foreign-born parents and U.S. customs.(Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
STERLING, VA - MAY 31: Ibrahim Moiz, 2nd from L, reads to his middle daughter, Maryam, 2, as his other daughters, Tasneem, 8mo, and Asiyah, 4, entertain themselves at Moiz's home on May 31, 2011, in Sterling, VA. Moiz, a Muslim American of Indian descent, and his wife Sadaf Iqbal, a Pakistani-American, are raising three daughters ranging in age from 4-years-old to 8-months-old. Moiz also acts as a mentor to a couple of teenagers, trying to bridge the gap between the ways of the teen's foreign-born parents and U.S. customs. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
STERLING, VA - MAY 31: Ibrahim Moiz, C, leads his two older daughters, Maryam, 2, L, and Asiyah, 4, to their bedroom near bedtime at their home on May 31, 2011, in Sterling, VA. Moiz, a Muslim American of Indian descent, and Iqbal, a Pakistani-American, are raising three daughters ranging in age from 4-years-old to 8-months-old. Moiz also acts as a mentor to a couple of teenagers, trying to bridge the gap between the ways of the teen's foreign-born parents and U.S. customs. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
STERLING, VA - JUNE 1: Sadaf Iqbal, R, receives her daughter, Maryam, 2, with open arms at the family's home on June 1, 2011, in Sterling, VA. Behind them is a wallhanging that bears a famous quote from the Qur'an called the 'Verse of the Throne' done by a Chinese Muslim master calligrapher named Haji Noor Deen. Iqbal, a Pakistani-American, and her husband, Ibraham Moiz, a Muslim American of Indian descent, are raising three daughters ranging in age from 4-years-old to 8-months-old. Moiz also acts as a mentor to a couple of teenagers, trying to bridge the gap between the ways of the teen's foreign-born parents and U.S. customs. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
STERLING, VA - MAY 31: Ibrahim Moiz, R, gives his daughter, Asiyah, 4, a high-five for using proper manners at the snack table as Moiz's wife, Sadaf Iqbal, L, works on the computer at their home on May 31, 2011, in Sterling, VA. Moiz, a Muslim American of Indian descent, and Iqbal, a Pakistani-American, are raising three daughters ranging in age from 4-years-old to 8-months-old. Moiz also acts as a mentor to a couple of teenagers, trying to bridge the gap between the ways of the teen's foreign-born parents and U.S. customs. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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The ruling was prompted by two separate cases in Belgium and France, in which private companies dismissed their female employees for wearing a hijab. In 2006, G4S Security Services, a private company in Belgium, terminated their receptionist, Samira Achbita, a Muslim woman who had been employed since 2003, after she began wearing a veil.

In 2009, French company Micropole similarly fired Asma Bougnaoui, who had worked as a design engineer since 2008, after a customer complained about her hijab. The company asked her not to wear it in the future, as respect to their policy of "neutrality." Bougnaoui refused and was then let go.

The Court's ruling notes that any headscarf or similar ban needs to be part of a company-wide rule regulating dress for everyone. It cannot be done case-by-case, based on the complaint of a customer.

The judgement will force people whose religious observance includes outer garments — Sikhs who wear turbans or Jews who kippahs — to choose between religious expression and the labor market, ENAR said. The advocacy network called the decision "a license to discriminate."

Together, ENAR and Amnesty International submitted to the Court that these companies' dismissal of their employees constitutes religious discrimination.

"Today's disappointing rulings by the European Court of Justice give greater leeway to employers to discriminate against women — and men — on the grounds of religious belief," John Dalhuisen, Director of Amnesty International's Europe and Central Asia program said in a statement. "At a time when identity and appearance has become a political battleground, people need more protection against prejudice, not less."

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World Hijab Day
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World Hijab Day
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 1: A woman takes part in World Hijab day rally near City Hall in the Manhattan, New York City, U.S.A on February 1, 2017. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 1: Women take part in World Hijab day rally near City Hall in the Manhattan, New York City, U.S.A on February 1, 2017. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 01: Women wear American Flag head scarfs at an event at City Hall for World Hijab Day on February 1, 2017 in New York City. The day was started five years ago when a Muslim in New York invited other women to experience what it is like to wear a hijab every day in America. The day is now celebrated in cities around the world. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 1: Women take part in World Hijab day rally near City Hall in the Manhattan, New York City, U.S.A on February 1, 2017. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 01: Women wear an American Flag head scarf at an event at City Hall for World Hijab Day on February 1, 2017 in New York City. The day was started five years ago when a Muslim in New York invited other women to experience what it is like to wear a hijab every day in America. The day is now celebrated in cities around the world. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 1: Women take part in World Hijab day rally near City Hall in the Manhattan, New York City, U.S.A on February 1, 2017. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 01: Women wear an American Flag head scarf at an event at City Hall for World Hijab Day on February 1, 2017 in New York City. The day was started five years ago when a Muslim in New York invited other women to experience what it is like to wear a hijab every day in America. The day is now celebrated in cities around the world. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 01: Women wear an American Flag head scarf at an event at City Hall for World Hijab Day on February 1, 2017 in New York City. The day was started five years ago when a Muslim in New York invited other women to experience what it is like to wear a hijab every day in America. The day is now celebrated in cities around the world. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
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The post Advocates Denounce EU's Workplace Headscarf Ruling appeared first on Vocativ.

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