Religious attire: practical tips for EU employers

January 7, 2017

Throughout the EU, disputes with employees who wear religious clothes or symbols, such as Islamic headscarves and Christian crosses, can be expensive and damaging for employers.  Such disputes attract potentially uncapped compensation awards if an employer’s dress code is found to be discriminatory on grounds of religion. However, this law has been interpreted differently across EU countries, making it difficult for employers to apply a consistent approach. A recent ruling has provided valuable clarification for employers.

The ruling concerned two cases (details in Resources below) involving staff who wished to wear an Islamic head covering to work (in France and Belgium).  The court established the following principles:


Three practical steps for employers in Europe

1.Assess discrimination issues before imposing dress codes

2.Obtain local advice where necessary

3.Consider local cultural attitudes in global mobility programmes


For further information, please contact Guy Abbiss or Bina Gayadien on +44 203 051 5711 or at or, or the CELIA contact in the relevant jurisdiction.


EU Directive on Equal Treatment on grounds of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation


Achbita and another v G4S Secure Solutions NV (Case C-157/15)

Bougnaoui and another v Micropole SA (Case C-188/15)


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