A ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union on Tuesday ruled that it is legal for a public office to ban its employees from wearing explicit signs of religious affiliation, including the headscarf worn by many Muslim women. The ruling establishes that offices have a legitimate interest in creating an environment of “neutrality” within them, but that in any case such prohibitions, in order not to be discriminatory, must be enforced equally by all employees and reduced “to the minimum necessary ». The Court also established that the opposite choice is also legitimate, i.e. not to impose any limitations on the signs of religious faith worn by public office officials.
The ruling responds to the request for an opinion presented by a Belgian court, to which a Muslim public employee from the city of Ans had appealed because she claimed to be discriminated against by her employer, who had ordered her not to wear the veil at office interior.
The Court of Justice (CJEU) is the court responsible for ensuring compliance with European laws in the European Union, where it is the highest level of judgement. The ruling therefore has value in public offices throughout the European Union. The Court had already expressed similar positions in the past, for the private sector.