Home > Workplace > France > 2000-05-03 - Council of State, Opinion, Miss Marteaux, n. 217077

2000-05-03 - Council of State, Opinion, Miss Marteaux, n. 217077

Workplace · France · Civil servant · Dress code · Neutrality

Civil servants are subject to the principle of laïcité and neutrality in religious matters

Key facts of the case - A temp student monitor in a State school was dismissed by regional chief education officer (recteur d’Académie). The administrative court in charge of the appeal requests an opinion from the Council of State. This opinion, which has since then become a reference, is three-fold and brings answers on the three following points.

Main reasoning of the court

1. Should the requirements of the principle of laïcité be assessed according to the nature of the public services?
The Council of State states that it results of the constitutional and legislative provisions that the principles of freedom of conscience and of laïcité of the State apply to all public services.

2. Within the public service of education, should it be distinguished between educational tasks and the others, between the teaching functions and the others? Following all civil servants, the members of the educational public service should not be discriminated on religious grounds for their entering civil service, but the principle of laïcité prevents them from manifesting their religious beliefs within a public service. Within the educational public service, no distinction should be established among the various categories of personnel.

3. Should it be distinguished among the religious signs according to their nature or the level of their conspicuous character? The civil servant of the education public service manifesting his/her religious beliefs, particularly with through a sign amounts to a breach of obligation. It belongs to the administration, under the control of the judge, to decide of the consequences of this breach, considering the nature and the level of the conspicuous character of this sign.