European Court Rules Workplace Hijab Ban Illegal

The European Court of Justice has made a ruling declaring it illegal for a business to fire a woman because she wore a hijab to work, saying customers and employers should get used to it. The case was brought to the court by Asma Bougnaoui who was hired by French IT consulting firm Micopole SA as a project engineer in 2009. Ms. Bougnaoui’s role was to go out and interact and advise clients. When clients of the company refused to work with her because of her Islamic headscarf, or hijab, the company felt they had no choice but to terminate her employment. The court has ruled that the decision to release Ms. Bougnaoui from her contract was discrimination based on religion and therefore illegal, Zeit reports. The ruling of Eleanor Sharpston, the Advocate General of the European Court, could affect future claims of discrimination by Muslim women and encourage more women to appeal headscarf bans. According to the court the headscarf did not directly interfere with the ability of Ms. Bougnaoui to carry out her assigned duties. Ms. Sharpston commented that the European Union (EU) rules allow companies to request specific clothing only if there is a “genuine and determining occupational requirement”. According to