EU's top court rules employers can ban Islamic headscarves in workplaces
BRUSSELS, March 14 (Xinhua) -- The European Court of Justice (ECJ) on Tuesday ruled that employers can ban employees from wearing visible religious symbols, such as Islamic headscarves, to work by implementing an internal rule.
"An internal rule of an undertaking which prohibits the visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign does not constitute direct discrimination," said the top court of the European Union (EU) in its decision, which will now serve as a legal precedent for all EU member states.
However, the court noted that in the absence of such a rule, an employer cannot ask a Muslim employee to remove her headscarf during work hours even if a customer makes such a request.
The court was ruling in the case of a Belgian woman who was dismissed after insisting on wearing a headscarf to work while an internal directive of her company prohibited her from doing so.
The woman then challenged the dismissal in a Belgian court which subsequently took the case to the ECJ.
The court found that there is no evidence that the internal rule was applied differently to this woman in comparison with other employees in the company.
"Accordingly, such an internal rule does not introduce a difference of treatment that is directly based on religion or belief, for the purposes of the directive," said the ECJ.