Home > Workplace > Netherlands > 2009-07-13 - District court of Hertogenbosch, n. 620353

2009-07-13 - District court of Hertogenbosch, n. 620353

Workplace · The Netherlands · Dismissal · Dress code

The Muslim nurse right to dress according to her religious beliefs can be limited for security and health reasons

Key facts of the case - A Muslim nurse refuses to wear the hospital uniform for religious reasons: the sleeves do not cover her arms. The dress code (short sleeves) is prescribed for health reasons in the dialysis-ward, where the nurse will be working. The nurse offers to wear sleeves that leave 15 centimeters of her arms non covered (proposal not accepted by the hospital)

Main reasoning of the court - The court had to decide on the employers request for termination of labour contract and thus to what extent may a hospital through a dress code infringe the constitutional right of a Muslim nurse to dress according to her religious beliefs (i.e. wearing long sleeves or three-quarter sleeves). The employment contract is terminated under the grant of compensation to the nurse.
According to the court, the nurse could not require that the employer provides scientific evidence for the fact that wearing three-quarter sleeves entails greater risks of infection than wearing short sleeves. The aim is to minimize that risk as far as possible. The judge therefore finds that the infringement deriving from the dress code of her constitutional right to act in accordance with her religious prescripts is necessary, proportionate and justified, especially since the employer suggested alternative solutions and based the decision on external advice.