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Home > Workplace > Germany > 2009-08-20 - Federal Labour Court, n. 2 AZR 499/08

2009-08-20 - Federal Labour Court, n. 2 AZR 499/08

Workplace · Germany · Dress code · Headscarf

Hair and ear covering cap as substitute for headscarf legitimates a warning by the employer

Key facts of the case - The claimant is of Muslim faith and has a position of social education worker in a public school in Nordrhein-Westfalen/Germany (defendant). Formerly she wore an Islamic headscarf. Her employer warned the claimant to put down her headscarf. Now she wears a cap which covers entirely her hair and ears. She received a new warning by the defendant to put her cap down.

Main reasoning of the court - The claim has to be rejected by the court. The warning is valid and the claimant has to put down her hair and ear covering cap. According to § 57 IV SG-NRW (School Act NRW) teacher are not supposed to express religiously since this could influence the neutrality of the state. The claimant has tried to avoid this prohibition of religious expression by wearing a cap instead of a headscarf.
Nevertheless the cap in the case at stake is symbolic object which contains a religious expression since it is obviously a piece of clothing with a particularly religious and ideological meaning. The claimant’s freedom of religion and her freedom to exercise a profession have to be weighted up against the neutrality of the state, the right to parental education and the children’s religious freedom. Therefore the employer’s warning is valid and the claimant has to put down the cap.