ECJ takes a stance on headscarf ban

Employers can forbid employees from wearing headscarves provided they have a general ban on visible religious or ideological symbols, the advocate general of the European Court of Justice has said in a statement. Should the Court follow her recommendation?

Open/close all quotes
Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

A wise statement

Deutschlandfunk is full of praise for the ECJ statement:

“It is fitting; it is well argued; it doesn't in any way encourage direct discrimination at work on religious grounds. It gives companies the leeway to decide for themselves whether to ban their employees from wearing headscarves or not. … The complainant could have known about the policies at the company where she chose to work - including the headscarf ban. By the same token, if someone were to seek employment in a workplace where everyone is required to wear headscarves, they have the same option to adjust their dress to meet this criterion for employment - or not to, and thus not to work at that particular company. The explanation in the ECJ statement as to why this is not a case of justifiably banned direct discrimination makes sense.”

Zeit Online (DE) /

Debate about religion and prejudices continues

If the European Court of Justice follows the opinion of its advocate general this could be the source of even more confusion, Zeit Online counters:

“Because then employers in the EU could decide willy-nilly to ban all crucifixes, headscarves, party insignia and 'Nuclear Power - No Thanks' buttons. That would be clear, and fair: no one would be discriminated against because everyone would be restricted to the same extent. The only problem is that even those who ban religious paraphernalia from their company in the belief that all women in headscarves are radical, oppressed and dangerous are also discriminating against them - as well as against their colleagues who keep a statue of Buddha in their office. ... The heated debate on headscarves isn't going to end even after the ECJ's ruling, because the reasons for wearing them - or not - often have nothing to do with objective considerations. Distinctions must be made between traditions, religious duties, convictions, fears and prejudices. And that won't always be successful.”