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2008-03-14 - High Administrative Court of Baden-Württemberg, n. 4 S 516/07

Workplace · Germany · Dress code · School

Teachers are not allowed to wear a headscarf or similar headgear at school

Key facts of the case - A teacher has been civil servant since 1978. In 1994 she converted to Islam and since 1995 she is wearing a headgear at school. School authorities instructed her to do her service without headgear when she had contact with students.

Main reasoning of the court - The teacher wearing a headgear infringes § 38 II 1 of the Baden-Württemberg School Act, which forbids teachers to express religious or ideological beliefs. The Court reasoned that a concrete danger for school peace is not necessary to forbid religious dresses. An abstract danger is sufficient. Such an abstract danger for school peace and the neutrality of the State arises from wearing a headscarf.
The fact that the woman has been working at that school for 30 years without complaints does not lead to a different consideration of the case. The legislator does not have to consider the conditions of individual cases but has the leeway to act in order to handle abstract dangers.
The Court further found that this ban of the headscarf does not violate the plaintiff’s religious freedom (Art. 4 GG, basic law). Although the teacher’s religious freedom is affected, the State’s educational mandate (Art. 7 GG) which demands State neutrality, the parents’ right to educate their children (Art. 6 GG) as well as the students’ negative freedom of faith (Art. 4 GG) prevail over the teacher’s religious freedom.
This is no unbiased discrimination of Muslim women because the students’ right to wear a headscarf as well as the teachers’ right to do so at private schools remains unaffected. The Court further reasoned that under § 38 of the Baden-Württemberg School Act, also the wearing of a Christian nun habit or the Jewish kippa is forbidden.

Comment - See the ruling of the Federal administrative Court of 16 December 2008, n. 2 B 46.08.