Home > Workplace > Germany > 2003-09-24 - Federal Constitutional Court, n. 2 BvR 1436/02

2003-09-24 - Federal Constitutional Court, n. 2 BvR 1436/02

Workplace · Germany · Dress code · Headscarf · Recruitment

Without a sufficiently definite statutory basis in a state, it is not possible to forbid teachers to wear a headscarf

Key facts of the case - A German Muslim woman was refused the status of a public officer. She is a teacher and stated that she was not going to take off her headscarf at school. She filed a constitutional complaint claiming that her basic rights of human dignity (Art. 1 GG=basic law), personal freedom (Art. 2 I GG), equality before the law (Art. 3 I, III s. 1), religious freedom (Art. 4 I, II GG) and her right to become a public officer regardless of religious convictions (Art. 33 II, III GG) were violated.

Main reasoning of the court - The Court found that hindering a woman with a headscarf from becoming teacher in a public school violates her right to equal access to public offices (Art. 33 II GG) in conjunction with her religious freedom (Art. 4 I, II GG). There is no sufficiently definite statutory basis in the current law of the state (Baden-Württemberg in the instant case) for a prohibition of teachers wearing a headscarf at school that could justify this intervention in the teacher’s basic rights. Yet, the Court further reasoned that social chance, which is associated with increasing religious plurality, may be the occasion for the legislature to redefine the admissible degree of religious interference permitted at school and to create such a statutory basis.

Comment - This ruling was decisive for some of the German states (länder) to enact legal regulations on religious clothes for teachers in order to have the sufficiently definite statutory basis for the ban of religious clothes (i.e. headscarves) the German Federal Constitutional Court requires.