The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) said Tuesday that public administrations may impose a ban on wearing religious symbols.
“In order to put in place an entirely neutral administrative environment, a public administration may prohibit the visible wearing in the workplace of any sign revealing philosophical or religious beliefs,” is said in a ruling that came in the case of a woman from the municipality of Ans in Belgium who was prohibited from wearing the headscarf in her workplace.
“Such a rule is not discriminatory if it is applied in a general and indiscriminate manner to all of that administration’s staff and is limited to what is strictly necessary,” it said.
As such, the court noted the rule may be regarded as being objectively justified by a legitimate aim.
But it stressed that the opposite policy authorizing the wearing of religious symbols would also be justified.
“Each Member State, and any infra-State body within the framework of its competences, has a margin of discretion in designing the neutrality of the public service which it intends to promote in the workplace, depending on its own context,” it said.