EU High Court (Kinda) Allows Employers to Ban Headscarves on Eve of Dutch Election
I’ve been trolling all night for stories to write up, and I have a few. But this one came across as I was preparing some of the others, and since it’s one of the bigger topics of the morning, I figured we should get it out of the way first.
In a nutshell, the European Court of Justice has ruled that employers are allowed to ban workers from wearing religious, political or philosophical clothing while at work. This pretty much boils down to Islamic forms, since headscarves are what initiated the case in the first place…
Employers are entitled to ban workers from the “visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign” – including headscarves, Europe’s top court has ruled.
But the ban must be based on internal company rules requiring all employees to “dress neutrally”, said the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
It cannot be based on the wishes of a customer, it said.
It is the court’s first decision on the issue of Islamic headscarves at work.
The ECJ’s ruling was prompted by the case of a receptionist fired for wearing a headscarf to work at the company G4S in Belgium.
There is a slight caveat, as the BBC post above alludes to. Here’s a snippet from the ruling itself, courtesy of Reuters…
“An internal rule of an undertaking which prohibits the visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign does not constitute direct discrimination,” the Court said in a statement.
“However, in the absence of such a rule, the willingness of an employer to take account of the wishes of a customer no longer to have the employer’s services provided by a worker wearing an Islamic headscarf cannot be considered an occupational requirement that could rule out discrimination.”
So, if there is a rule forbidding headscarves already in place by a firm or business, then telling an employee they cannot wear one doesn’t constitute discrimination. However, if some old lady comes in and says she wants the Muslim chick who works the counter to take that shit off her head, and the employer forces her to do so without a previous rule having been in place, then that action does constitute discrimination.
That sounds like a pretty fair ruling, although some would argue that the employer should have the right to tell the Muslim employee to take it off even in the second example. I can live with this, though.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) March 14, 2017
The thing that strikes me is curious, though, is how this decisions just came out on the eve of the election in the Netherlands. Geert Wilders seems to be surging as of late, even though he is unlikely to be able to form a coalition government even if his party finishes first in the polls, since all other major parties have ruled out a team up with him. Still, this ruling coming out the day before the election just seems curiously timed. Like maybe it was an attempt to give a boost to pro-European Union forces like Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
Oh, and did I mention Rutte has some problems of his own, this morning?
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte secretly agreed to accept hundreds of thousands of refugees from Turkey each year as part of an EU-Turkey deal but did not inform other EU leaders, a book by a German journalist says…
In particular, they gave consent to the idea of Europe taking between 150,000 and 250,000 Syrian refugees from Turkey each year even after the massive inflow of asylum seekers and migrants to Europe would have subsided and the principle, under which the EU should accept one Syrian refugee for each asylum seeker returned from Greece to Turkey, would not work anymore.
However, this particular ‘deal’ never made into the official text of the agreement and remains a “gentleman’s agreement” between Merkel, Rutte and Turkish authorities, Alexander writes in his report, citing unnamed officials that “were directly involved in the negotiations” between the three leaders on the night before the summit.
This part of the agreement has never been revealed, neither to the other EU leaders nor to the German public, the journalists say in his book.
The EU is cancer and one ruling doesn’t change that.