Businesses’ newly affirmed ability to ban headscarves likely to continue in Post-Brexit UK

On Tuesday (14 March), the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled against two Muslim women who claimed employment discrimination after being fired from their jobs for wearing hijab, modest religious dress which includes a headscarf.

British legal experts say that the ruling will automatically remain enforced in the UK until it has actually split from the EU. This process will take about 2 years. After this period, it is unlikely that a British court would overturn the ruling.

A related British court case in 2012 had the opposing outcome. A guard at Buckingham Palace successfully opposed the military’s opposition to his turban. While this court case does not directly overturn this ruling, it opens possibilities for future opposition.

A 2007 British airways ban on Christian crosses was also struck down in court because headscarfs and turbans were permitted for religious reasons. The grounds for this decision were that the ban did not treat religious groups equally.

UK employers and legal experts, however, do not see the ruling as a major reversal of British legal approaches of the past. One reason for this is that companies still cannot ban religious garb for any reason other than “neutrality” of uniforms, including if customers complain. The courts in the UK will still likely avoid extreme positions on individual cases.

Muslims organisations in the UK, including the Muslim Council of Britain, see the ruling as an affront to equality.

 

Muslim engineer’s access to nuclear sites suspended

August 18, 2014

In March 2014 the head of an engineering project, employed by a subcontractor of the EDF, was refused access to nuclear sites at the nuclear center in Nogent-sur-Seine “without any apparent reason” by the city’s prefecture. The 29 year-old engineer had previously received access in 2012 and 2013.

However, in March the prefecture decided otherwise and suspended his access. The action required no justification as a matter of national “defense.” With no explanation given, the lawyers of the Collective Against Islamophobia are attempting to get an answer. “My client was authorized for three years to enter nuclear sites. The big question is: what changed? From one day to the next, he was suspected of I don’t know what,” argued the client’s lawyer Sefen Guez Guez. He does not exclude an act of Islamophobia from the potential list of reasons. “Given the surrounding context, his religious practices were perhaps disturbing,” he added.

In June, Guez Guez brought the complaint to the administrative court of Chalons-en-Champagne which honored the complaint, saying that there was “serious doubt about the decision’s legality.” The judge reinstated the engineer’s access and allowed the man to return to the nuclear sites.

Less than a month later the EDF again denied the plaintiff access and his case returned to court. The decision concerning future access to nuclear sites will be released at the end of August. “My client is confident. He has never made any errors, he’s a future father, he has no criminal record, he has no problems with the company,” affirmed his lawyer.

While waiting for the decision, the engineer can only complete administrative tasks. “He’s in a closet and he wants to return to work as it was before,” said Guez Guez. “It’s like Guantanamo! How can someone lose his job without being able to defend himself, without knowing what’s happening?”

Got religion on campus? Leave it off your resume

June 16, 2014

Recent college grads, take note: Mentioning a campus religion group on your resume — particularly a Muslim club — may lead to significantly fewer job opportunities.

Two new sociology studies find new graduates who included a religious mention on a resume were much less likely to hear back from potential employers.
The studies used fictitious resumes — with bland names that signaled no particular race or ethnicity. These were sent to employers who posted on the CareerBuilder website to fill entry-level job openings in sales, information technology and other fields suitable for first jobs out of college.

The researchers tested seven religious categories including: Roman Catholic, evangelical Christian, atheist, Jewish, Muslim, pagan, and one faith they just made up, “Wallonian,” to see what would happen compared to people who made no faith reference.

Muslims faced the sharpest discrimination with 38 percent fewer emails and 54 percent fewer phone calls to the voice mailboxes set up by the researchers.
In New England, 6,400 applications were sent to 1,600 job postings by employers. But applications mentioning any religious tie were 24 percent less likely to get a phone call, according to the study published in Research in Social Stratification and Mobility.

Again, Muslims bore the brunt of discrimination, receiving 32 percent fewer emails and 48 percent fewer phone calls. Catholics were 29 percent less likely to get a call and pagans were 27 percent less likely — slightly better than the “Wallonian” applicants.