Search

How can we help?

Icon

It’s all in the consistency…

In the first case brought before the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) under the Equal Treatment Directive (on which the Equality Act 2010 is based), Advocate General Kokott’s opinion (effectively a draft judgment) has made a somewhat surprising finding that where an employee is prohibited from wearing any visible signs of political, philosophical or religious belief, so long as the prohibition is consistent among differing religious groups, this would not amount to direct religious discrimination.

In Achbita and another v G4S Secure Solutions NV, a Muslim employee was dismissed after informing her employer of her intention to wear her headscarf in the workplace, contrary to the company’s dress-code policy.  The Claimant took her case to the ECJ to clarify whether a company ban on wearing religious symbols at work constituted discrimination. A-G Kokott’s opinion (which is not binding on the ECJ or domestic courts), was that the ban applied “to all visible religious symbols without distinction” and as such could affect individuals of other religions and was not discriminatory ‘between religions’.  Further, she stated that if the employer’s aim to achieve a neutral image in respect of religion and ideology was being legitimately met by such a ban, it could be considered as a genuine and legitimate occupational requirement, and therefore could be justified.

Monica Atwal

Managing Partner

View profile

+44 118 960 4605

Chambers and Partners

The Clarkslegal team are commercial and good to work with. They get what our business needs and tell me what I need to hear.

The A-G’s opinion should be approached with caution until the final judgment is released.  We are also awaiting the ECJ’s judgment in a similar case, Bougnaoui v Micropole Univers C-188/15, which, again, will determine if the need to adopt a ‘neutral appearance’ can be an occupational requirement. Once these two judgments have been released, it will be interesting to see the approach the UK Tribunals take.  For now, employers should continue to treat such policies with extreme caution and seek legal advice if they are intending to implement such a ban.

Employmentbuddy.com 

About this article

Disclaimer

This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

Monica Atwal

Managing Partner

View profile

+44 118 960 4605

About this article

Read, listen and watch our latest insights

art
  • 16 May 2024
  • Immigration

What Employers need to know about Biometric Residence Permits

Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs) are biometric immigration documents that are issued to non-EEA nationals and EEA nationals, who have been granted permission to stay in the UK.

art
  • 14 May 2024

Clarkslegal’s London team moves to new Chancery Lane office

The London office of Clarkslegal has relocated to Chancery House, on Chancery Lane. The staff is enthusiastic about the relocation because Chancery Lane has a longstanding association with the legal profession in London.

art
  • 10 May 2024
  • Employment

New duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment – coming October 2024

The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023 is due to come into force in October 2024.

art
  • 09 May 2024
  • Employment

Labour Party Employment Law Proposals – Promises of further consultations and a softer approach

The Prime Minister recently announced a raft of changes, to be implemented in the next parliament, aimed at reducing the number of people who are economically inactive due to illness.

art
  • 09 May 2024
  • Corporate and M&A

Navigating corporate transparency: ECCTA reforms series – part 1

The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023 (ECCTA) received Royal Assent in October 2023 and marked a pivotal moment in corporate governance and transparency.

art
  • 07 May 2024
  • Employment

Changes to TUPE rules from 1 July 2024

The Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (‘TUPE’) aim to safeguard employees’ rights on the transfer of a business or on the change of a service.