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European Court OK’s Company Rule Neutrally Banning Wearing of All Signs of Religious Belief


 In L.F. v. S.C.R.L., EU EDJ, Oct. 13, 2022), the Court of Justice of the European Communities, in a request from Belgium for a preliminary ruling, held that a private company may prohibit employees from wearing all visible signs of political, philosophical or religious belief in the workplace.  This would not constitute direct discrimination on the ground of religion or belief in violation of Council Directive 2000/78 so long as the company’s policy covers any manifestation of religious, philosophical or spiritual beliefs without distinction and treats all employees alike by requiring them in a general and undifferentiated way to dress neutrally. Such a rule might constitute indirect discrimination if it had a disparate impact on persons of one religion, but would not if it were objectively justified by a legitimate aim and the means of achieving that aim were appropriate and necessary. The question arose in the context of a company’s refusal to employ a Muslim woman as an intern because she insisted on wearing a hijab. The Court issued a press release announcing the decision. Law & Religion UK also has coverage.


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