The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on Headscarves in the Workplace: A Commentary


Monday, April 23, 2018, 2:15pm to 4:00pm


Hoffmann Room, Adolphus Busch Hall, Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, 27 Kirkland Street at Cabot Way, Cambridge, MA

The Court of Justice of the European Union issued its much-anticipated decisions on two requests for preliminary rulings concerning whether the prohibition on wearing headscarves at the workplace constitutes discrimination (C-188/15 Asma Bougnaoui, ADDH v. Micropole SA and C-157/15 Achbita v. G4S Secure Solutions NV). The decisions are trying to set out refined criteria, which would define the permissibility of limiting employees’ headscarves at work. In both cases the court held that limitations on employees’ religious headscarves can be acceptable if they are based on an internal policy of political, philosophical or religious neutrality set by the employer.

ioanna    Ivana

The decisions have been criticized as to whether they provide enough guidance to the national courts concerning the criteria that they need to take into consideration in their attempts to find a balance between the rights in conflict. Further, the decisions are raising concerns as to whether the criteria that they are posing are satisfying in view of guaranteeing social integration of minority religious groups and in the long term of assuring peaceful coexistence between religious groups. The discussion will focus on the idea of neutrality as a political ideal and on whether ‘neutrality’ is an achievable ideal.

Speakers: Ivana Isailovic, Visiting Researcher, Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University; Ioanna Tourkochoriti, Professor, University of Galway School of Law

Chair: José Manuel Martínez Sierra, RCC Director, Jean Monnet ad personam Professor of EU Law and Government, Faculty Affiliate, Co-chair of the European Union Law and Government Study Group, Souther Europe in the European Union Study Group, Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University

Sponsors: RCC; Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies; EU Law and Government Study Group; Jean Monnet ad Personam Chair in European Union Law and Government; European Union Study Group