European Court of Justice rules firing hijabi Frenchwoman was discrimination
Another recent ruling allows companies to refuse employment to Muslim women who wear headscarves. (Shutterstock)
A Frenchwoman sacked for continuing to wear a headscarf at work was discriminated against, the European Court of Justice said Wednesday.
Asma Bougnaoui lost her job with IT consultancy Micropole in June 2009 when she refused to remove her hijab after clients complained it made them feel uneasy.
The court’s advocate general, Eleanor Sharpston, said in a statement that Bougnaoui's dismissal less than a year after being hired amounted to unlawful discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief.
“There is nothing to suggest she was unable to perform her duties as a design engineer because she wore an Islamic headscarf,” Sharpston said.
The court’s opinion is not binding and a final judgment will be released later in the year but preliminary rulings are usually followed.
Bougnaoui took her case to the Court of Cassation last year, which requested an opinion from the European court. The Luxembourg-based court's verdict is binding on EU member states.
The case is the latest in France to focus on Muslim dress and practice. The hijab was banned in schools and public buildings in 2004 and the full face veil was banned in public six years later.
By Hasan Esen