EU Ruling – Ban on religious clothing and symbols in the workplace
A ban on religious clothing and symbols in the workplace has been a controversial topic for some time and a recent European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) case in which an employee was banned from wearing a headscarf has received a lot of media interest.
G4S in Belgium had a policy of neutrality under which it banned all political, religious, or similar signs from those working in customer-facing roles. A Muslim employee wanted to wear a headscarf and was dismissed for refusing to comply with the policy.
The ECJ ruled that it may be possible to ban headscarves and other religious symbols in customer-facing roles where you have a policy that applies across all religions, as no one religion is treated less favourably than another. However, the neutral policy could still be discriminatory if not used appropriately and when necessary. In this case, it might have been possible to redeploy the employee into a non-customer facing role instead of dismissing her.