Can banning headscarves amount to religious discrimination?

March 14, 2017

In the case of Achbita v G4S Secure Solutions, CJEU have held that it is ok to ban the wearing of a headscarf as long as it is part of a blanket ban on the wearing of all religious signs in customer facing roles.

G4S in Belgium operated a policy of ‘neutrality’, banning all wearing of political, religious or similar signs in customer facing roles.

Ms Achbite who was a Muslim employee was told she could not wear a headscarf and was subsequently dismissed.

The CJEU held that G4S’s policy did not amount to direct discrimination on grounds of religion because it prohibited all religious signs, so it was not treating one religion less favourably than another.

It also held that an employer’s desire to project an image of neutrality was a legitimate aim provided it applied only to customer-facing employees.

The question is – could Ms Achbite have been redeployed to a non-customer facing role instead of being dismissed? And further; would it have been acceptable in a non-customer facing role to wear a headscarf or other religious sign?

The full judgement is not yet available but the press summary is here.


This post is in: Employee Relations Blogs, Employment Law Blogs, Featured, General, Honest Employment Law Practice, News and New Legislation

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