European Court of Justice allows banning of “political, philosophical or religious sign” garments from the workplace

The European Court of Justice ruled that the companies had the legitimate right to protect a neutral image and denied that the two cases brought to court were direct discrimination.

Garments such as hijabs that show “any political, philosophical or religious sign” can now legally be banned from the workplace, as stated by the European Court of Justice.

The recent ruling directly affects workers in Ireland as the ban can be applied to any company with a stated dress code.

“I don’t see how having some form of religious symbol on you is going to affect your ability to work,” said Aisha Siwar a physics and biomedical sciences student from DCU. “Muslims are already marginalised enough, especially Muslim women…  by banning the hijab you’re further marginalising us and creating a bigger issue that we’re already trying to fix.”

The case arose from two women, from France and Belguim, who were fired for refusing to take off their hijabs.

The European Court of Justice ruled that the companies had the legitimate right to protect a neutral image. They denied that the cases brought forward by Asma Bougnaoui and Samira Achbita were direct discrimination.

The decision seems to go against a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (which is not a part of the EU) that states that crosses are allowed to be worn, which could cause confusion in workplaces.

A protest was held outside the European Parliament offices in Dublin by the Muslim Sisters of Éire and the European Network Against Racism on the 21stMarch.

According to The rights groups such as Amnesty International said that the ruling would encourage discrimination and said the ruling was “disappointing.”

Initially, the EU was originally a peace project and at the Culture Forum in Brussels, May 2016, High Representative /Vice-President Federica Mogherini spoke about the importance of culture and bringing European cultures together: “It was not isolation, but openness what made Europe such an incredible place and project. A project of integration that the world considers- still- as a model.”

Róise McGagh