Headscarf Ban in Workplace Legal in Some Cases — EU Court

GettyThere are several types of Islamic dress including the burka niqab and hijab

"I have alway thought people should be able to wear a badge or emblem for their religion".

"By stating that veiled women can simply take off their hijab, you imply that the empowerment of women to be in control of their own body and to make individual decisions is reserved for white women only". However they found that Bougnaoui had suffered discrimination and that a customers' objections did not warrant a legitimate cause for dismissing her.

Judges ruled on a 2006 from Belgium in which a woman at the security company G4S was sacked for wearing a headscarf at work for religious reasons, and another from France involving an engineer fired after customer complaints. "European values must apply in public life", he said in a tweet.

Al Jazeera's Natacha Butler, reporting from Paris, said Tuesday's ruling is complex. The executives at G4S advised her not to do so, for the company upholds a strict and neutral policy on religion.

The ruling was made in regards to two separate lawsuits: one by a Muslim woman in Belgium, and another by a Muslim woman in France.

"Today's disappointing rulings by the European Court of Justice give greater leeway to employers to discriminate against women - and men - on the grounds of religious belief".

The court said companies should be able to ban the wearing of any visible political, philosophical or religious signs.

In 2006, Achbita told G4S she wanted to wear the Islamic headscarf at work but was told this would not be allowed.

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The coalition government, composed of the liberal DP, the social-democratic LSAP and the Greens, has proposed introducing a law which would essentially ban the burqa.

"It is not evident from the material in the file available to the Court that the internal rule was applied differently to Ms Achbita as compared to other G4S employees", the European Union court said.

However the Court has left it open to the Belgian court to conclude that such a rule might amount to indirect discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief if it could be established that a neutrality rule put "persons adhering to a particular religion or belief being put at a particular disadvantage".

"We fear that this ruling will serve as a green light to those wishing to normalise discrimination against faith communities", said a spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain.

In France, Asma Bougnaoui was sacked from an IT company after a client requested she remove her headscarf while on their premises. She was told that the wearing of an Islamic headscarf might pose a problem when she was in contact with customers of the company.

The Muslim receptionist's refusal to go to work without a headscarf ultimately resulted in her dismissal.

Under current United Kingdom discrimination law, a ban on wearing an Islamic head covering of any kind would be lawful only if it was considered a "genuine occupational requirement".

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