Two decisions of the EU Court of Justice have held it may be justified to ban visible signs of religious or other belief at work in the interests of ‘neutrality’, including headscarves and veils.
In the Achbita and Bougnaoui cases in March 2017, the Luxembourg court suggested that an employer may be able to justify a rule banning customer-facing staff at work from wearing any visible signs of political, philosophical or religious beliefs, because of a desire by the employer to display political, philosophical or religious neutrality in relations with customers.
The ban would need to apply to all beliefs though, not just Islam.
Importantly, the approach of the UK courts to ‘neutrality’ as an aim has yet to be determined. Even before Brexit, British decisions would be needed to clarify the position in this country.
The cases are