Employers ‘can ban crosses and hijabs at work’

What happened?

The european Court of Justice has ruled that employers have the right to ban employees from wearing religious symbols. It must be a general policy and employers must not target particular religions. The court said: “An internal rule of an undertaking which prohibits the visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign does not constitute direct discrimination.” The case was brought by two Muslim women who had been sacked for wearing the hijab at work.

What the media said

Writing in the Independent, Sofia Ahmed criticised the ruling. “Such discriminatory and openly xenophobic policies contradict Europe’s inherent belief that it is a bastion of freedom in an otherwise barbaric and intolerant world,” she said.

Fr Neil McNicholas, writing in the Yorkshire Post, said the decision was “an apparent flouting of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states ‘everyone has the right to manifest his religion in freedom of belief in practice, worship and observance’”.

The Anglican Bishop of Leeds, Nicholas Baines, also criticised the ruling, telling the Telegraph: “This judgment once again raises vital questions about freedom of expression … and shows that the denial of freedom of religion is not a neutral act.”

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