Home > Workplace > France > 2014-06-25 - Court of cassation, Association Baby Loup, n. 13-28.369

2014-06-25 - Court of cassation, Association Baby Loup, n. 13-28.369

Workplace · France · Dress code · Headscarf

Lawful dismissal an employee of a private nursery refusing to remove Islamic headscarf

Key facts of the case - about the dismissal of an employee of a private nursery, who refused to remove her Islamic headscarf,
The case involved the employee of a nursery run by a private association, the Baby Loup Nursery, in a Paris suburb. She had been dismissed because of her refusal to remove her headscarf, in breach of the organization internal regulations. These regulations actually imposed the employees to abide by the principle of laïcité and religious neutrality.

Main reasoning of the court - The highest civil court eventually held that the general clause on laïcité and neutrality in the internal regulations of the Baby Loup Association limiting the employees’ freedom of religion comply with the provisions of Article L. 1121-1 of the Labour Code. This limitation was justified owing to small number of employees likely to be in relation with children and their parents. It is worthy of note that the Court of cassation denies the reasoning of the court of appeal of Paris – which issued its ruling of 27 November 2013 – consisting in qualifying the association of “entreprise de conviction” (faith-based organization), namely to making of laïcité and neutrality the ethos of the association justifying the limitation of freedom of religion.

Comment - This decision is the final point of a very controversial and topical case. Beyond the turmoil which still accompanies this affair, it has raised an important debate on the enforceability of the principle of laïcité in private companies, while both principles of laïcité and neutrality normally do not apply to the employees of a private association in the absence of public service activity.