Companies in the European Union can now ban employees from wearing a headscarf under certain conditions, including the need to project an image of neutrality to customers, the EU’s top court on Thursday, Reuters reports.

“A prohibition on wearing any visible form of expression of political, philosophical or religious beliefs in the workplace may be justified by the employer’s need to present a neutral image towards customers or to prevent social disputes,” the court said.

“However, that justification must correspond to a genuine need on the part of the employer and, in reconciling the rights and interests at issue, the national courts may take into account the specific context of their Member State and, in particular, more favourable national provisions on the protection of freedom of religion.”


The cases were brought by two German Muslim women, a special needs childcare worker and a sales assistant in a chemist. Both were told to remove their headscarves after deciding to wear the hijab when they returned to work after maternity leave.

Naz Shah, Member of Parliament for Bradford West, England has, in a tweet, said that she will raise concerns against the ruling, terming it as “Islamophobic, ignorant and a blatant attack on religious freedoms.”