Labor court judges on headscarf

The Federal labour court in Erfurt has rejected the legal complaint of a 36 years old woman claiming to wear her headscarf during service at an Evangelical facility. Staff members would be obliged to behave “neutral” regarding religious affiliations. The headscarf would clearly symbolize the affiliation to Islam and therefore be incompatible with the rules of the facility. The court noted exceptional cases, in which headscarves would be acceptable. Exceptional cases may be approved when employees mostly work in a “laboratory or have sparse contact to persons”.

The lawyer of the claimant had asked the court to consider the freedom of religion based in the German basic law (constitution). The labor court of Bochum had previously judged in favor of the woman. However, the State labor court overruled the judge at higher instance, denying her the right to wear the headscarf at the facility, as she converted to Islam after employment.

Since 1985, church institutions possess a special status in labor law, which has been guaranteed by the German Federal Constitutional Court. They are entitled to set the legal frames within their own institutions. For instance, these frames apply to recruitment criteria depending to church loyalty and affiliation.