Newsflash: Religious discrimination & headscarves

race discrimination

What do we already know?

We updated you in our July 2016 Newsletter Case update (2): Religious discrimination – dress code on Advocate General Opinions in respect of the legality of bans on wearing headscarves at work (Achbita and another v G4S Secure Solutions NV and Bougnaoui and another v Micropole SA).

The Advocate Generals gave very conflicting opinions and therefore we have been waiting for the decisions of the CJEU for some clarification.

What’s new?

The CJEU has arrived at similar conclusions to the Advocate Generals in the above cases and decided that if an employer:

  • has a policy of ‘neutrality’ (banning all wearing of political, religious or similar signs), this does not amount to direct discrimination on grounds of religion because it prohibits all religious signs and therefore is not treating one religion less favourably than another (Achbita v G4S Secure Solutions, available here); and
  • dismisses an employee for wearing an Islamic headscarf at work, in breach of its direct instruction following a customer’s objection to her wearing the headscarf, it is directly discriminatory on grounds of religion or belief (Bougnaoui and another v Micropole SA, available here).

We will consider these decisions in more detail in our April Newsletter and unpick what has led to these two very different decisions.

race discrimination