The European Union's highest court has produced a landmark ruling that allows workplaces to ban visible symbols of religious or political belief.
The Luxembourg-based tribunal was called to deliberate on the case of two German women who were suspended from their work for wearing their hijabs.
The Muslim women, who worked at different jobs, started wearing the religious headdress after coming back from parental leave.
They didn't initially wear the hijab when they started their jobs at a childcare centre and pharmacy, however decided to after years of continued work.
The court heard how both women were either told to find new work if they continued, take the headscarf off, or risk being suspended.
They argued that it was part of their religious following to wear the hijab and took the matter to the highest court.
However, the court has ruled in favour of the women's employers.
The tribunal said workplaces must weigh up the employee's need to follow their faith with the needs and rules of the office.
"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," the court said.
"However, that justification must correspond to a genuine need on the part of the employer and, in reconciling the rights and interests at issue, the national courts may take into account the specific context of their Member State and, in particular, more favourable national provisions on the protection of freedom of religion."
The EU's 27 members must use this ruling in accordance with its existing laws on religious freedoms and consider the 'the rights and interests of the employee'.
This decision means workplaces will be able to fire a staff member if they continue to wear a hijab or other religious or political clothing and if they are able to justify the ban.
This isn't the first time the matter has been addressed in an EU court. Back in 2017, the European Union court in Luxembourg said companies had the right to ban religious or political clothing under certain circumstances.
France was also well ahead of the other EU members after it upheld the dismissal of a Muslim daycare worker who wore a headscarf in 2014.
The private company demanded strict neutrality from employees and the French court said it was well within its rights to ban the hijab.
Featured Image Credit: PA
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