13 July 2016

EU court split on headscarf bans

The EU's top court faced a dilemma Wednesday after a top legal officer said it was discriminatory for a firm to tell an employee to remove a Muslim headscarf, contradicting an earlier opinion in a separate case.

The latest case concerns a woman, Asma Bougnaoui, who was dismissed from her job as an IT consultant in France after clients complained about her wearing a headscarf.

The European Court of Justice said one of its advocates general, Eleanor Sharpston, "considers that a company policy requiring an employee to remove her Islamic headscarf when in contact with clients constitutes unlawful direct discrimination."

The senior lawyer, whose opinion must be considered by the court when it makes a final ruling at a later date, found "nothing to suggest that Ms. Bougnaoui was unable to perform her duties as a design engineer because she wore an Islamic headscarf."

"Indeed, (her employer's) letter terminating her employment had expressly referred to her professional competence," it added. [Arabtoday] Read more