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'Bosses allowed to ban Muslims from wearing hijab at work'

RELIGIOUS SYMBOLS: An EU advisor has ruled that bosses should be allowed to ban Muslim employees from wearing a hijab

BOSSES SHOULD be allowed to ban Muslim women from wearing a headscarf in the workplace, but only if all other religious and political symbols are banned as well, an European Union court adviser has said.

If visible religious or political symbols are banned as part of company dress code or uniform policy, the hijab should not be exempt, an adviser to the European Court of Justice said yesterday (May 31).

Advocate general Juliane Kokott said that while an employee cannot "leave their sex, ethnicity, age or disability at the door", he or she may be expected to moderate exercise of religion in the workplace.

This is the first time Europe's highest court is handling a case on banning the headscarf, Mail Online reported.

The case has been referred to the European Court of Justice by a Belgian court, hearing a compensation claim from a woman who was dismissed from her job for wearing a headscarf.

The woman was working as a receptionist for Belgian company G4S Secure Solutions, which has a general ban on wearing visible religious or political symbols.

The Belgian court asked the European Court of Justice whether forbidding the headscarf violated an EU law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of religion.

"While an employee cannot 'leave' his sex, skin colour, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age or disability 'at the door' upon entering his employer's premises, he may be expected to moderate the exercise of his religion in the workplace," Juliane Kokott, the EU court's advocate general, wrote in her opinion published on Tuesday.

The advocate general's findings are not binding but the EU court typically follows the adviser's recommendation.

A ruling from the European Court of Justice is expected later this year. The Belgian court will rule on the matter thereafter.

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