|Author (Person)||Rocha, Frederico|
|Author (Corporate)||Cardiff EDC|
|Content Type||Blog & Commentary, News, Overview|
Information Guide concerning Cases C-804/18 and C-341/19 from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), which concern the equal treatment in employment and occupation, freedom of religion in connection with the wearing of a headscarf in the workplace.
Two individuals employed in companies governed by German law - WABE eV and MH Müller Handels GmbH - wore an Islamic headscarf (or hijab) at their respective workplaces. In both cases, the individuals were subject to instructions and warnings against displaying any major signs of political, philosophical or religious beliefs. Both were told not wear their headscarves.
One of the individuals brought an action before Hamburg Labour Corurt (Arbeitsgericht Hamburg) seeking an order that the company remove from her personal file the warnings concerning the wearing of the Islamic headscarf. The other individual brought an action before the national courts seeking the invalidity of such instruction and compensation for the damage suffered. The latter's action was upheld and the company brought an appeal on a point of law before Germany's Federal Labour Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht).
The two German courts decided to refer questions to the CJEU concerning the interpretation of Directive 2000/78. In particular, the questions focus on whether prohibiting certain clothes based on religious precepts constitutes discrimination, the circumstances in which a difference of treatment may be justified and what elements must be taken into consideration in examining the appropriateness of such a difference of treatment.
The Court decided on 15 July 2021 that a prohibition on wearing any visible form of expression of political, philosophical or religious beliefs in the workplace may be justified by the employer's need to present a neutral image towards customers or to prevent social disputes. However, it added that justification must correspond to a genuine need from the employer, and national courts may take into account the specific context of their Member State when reconciling rights and interests at issue.
|Subject Categories||Employment and Social Affairs, Law, Values and Beliefs|
|Subject Tags||Employment Policy, EU Law, Religion, Workers Rights|
|Countries / Regions||Germany|
|International Organisations||European Union [EU]|