Not hiring headscarf woman illegal: Court
BERLINA German dental practice that refused to hire a Muslim woman because she insisted on wearing a headscarf at work is unlawful and discriminatory, according to a first-of-its-kind court decision.
A young Berlin woman applied last summer for a traineeship to become a dental assistant, but despite being qualified she was told that she could not take the position unless she removed her headscarf, a local news website quoted Tagesspiegel newspaper as saying. This amounted to religious discrimination, the city’s labor court ruled, as a headscarf is not an “arbitrary piece of clothing” but an expression of her beliefs, and wearing it is part of her right to religious freedom.
Refusing to employ because of the woman’s headscarf is in breach of the Equal Treatment Act, the judge said, while the court also rejected the suggestion that headscarves could pose a hygienic risk to patients. There was no more chance of transferring bacteria with a scarf than there was via human hair, said the judge. The dental surgery argued that they had a right to religious neutrality, but the judge said that as “it was in no way a religious institution” this was not a valid argument.