In Belgium, a security company did not want one of its employees wearing an Islamic headscarf while on the job. The employee insisted she should be allowed to wear her headscarf and would not relent, so they fired her.
She sued her company for discrimination, but that lawsuit failed Tuesday. A senior adviser to the European Court of Justice issued a ruling that a European Union business is allowed to tell an employee he or she cannot wear a piece of clothing that is religious in nature, as long as the rule is based on an overall company rule prohibiting visible political or religious symbols in general and not focused on any one particular religion.
“Such a ban may be justified if it enables the employer to pursue the legitimate policy of ensuring religious and ideological neutrality,” Advocate General Juliane Kokott wrote in her opnion.
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After being asked by a Belgian court for clarification on what is outlawed by EU anti-discrimination law, Kokott issued the verdict Tuesday in direct relation to the aforementioned case, which involved Samira Achbita as the plaintiff.
“While an employee cannot ‘leave’ his sex, skin colour, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age or disability ‘at the door’ upon entering his employer’s premises, he may be expected to moderate the exercise of his religion in the workplace,” Kokott wrote in her opinion.
Achbita lost her case in two Belgian courts before the country’s Court of Cassation sought the EU court’s opinion. The judge’s opinion is not binding, however, and the European Court of Justice, which is the EU’s highest court, will convene on the matter.
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BBC Europe reports that the court will confine itself only to the facts of this specific case, looking to answer the questions of whether it is valid to ban all philosophical and religious clothing so as to maintain religious neutrality or if doing so would be considered discrimination and not allowed under the rules of the European Union.
h/t: Huffington Post
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