The European Court of Justice in mid-July issued a ruling allowing employers to ban workers from wearing religious or political symbols as long as the bans “pursue a policy of political, philosophical and religious neutrality with regard to its customers or users.”
The ruling is expected mainly to apply to headscarves often worn by Muslim women. The legal challenge was brought by a Muslim who worked at a center for special-needs children and another who worked as a cashier at a drug store. Both were told they could not wear hijabs while on the job.
The court held that in certain cases, employers may have a legitimate need to project an image of neutrality.
“A prohibition on wearing any visible form of expression of political, philosophical or religious beliefs in the workplace may be justified by the employer’s need to present a neutral image towards customers or to prevent social disputes,” declared the court.