German court sends headscarf case to EU Court of Justice


he question of whether a German drugstore cashier’s right to wear a headscarf for religious reasons carries more weight than a business’ right is being bumped up to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), a German judge ruled yesterday.

The case focuses on a cashier at German drugstore chain Mueller who returned to her job after maternity leave wearing the headscarf. She was told in 2016 that the decision conflicted with the company’s policy against overt religious statements.

The woman’s lawyer says the company has not been able to prove that there were any disruptions or problems prompted by her actions. The company says it has a clear policy against all head coverings. The woman won an initial court hearing and a higher court refused to hear Mueller’s appeal. The case was reviewed by the Federal Labor Court yesterday.

The matter comes to the court two days before World Hijab Day, on Friday, when people who support the right to wear the scarf rally for its wider acceptance.

According to a research study conducted in 2016, wearing a headscarf in Germany is seen as a distinct disadvantage while job searching. Headscarf wearers have to send applications four times more than those without headscarves in order to receive an invitation for an interview, the study noted. Headscarf wearers have 25 percent less chance of getting invitation for an interview.

The researchers of the study have sent nearly 1,500 fictitious applications for advertisement around places in Germany. They have combined identical education and training paths with different photos. These candidates were seen with or without a headscarf. The “Bild” newspaper stated that the fictitious headscarf wearer, Meryem Öztürk, sent four times as many job applications as the fictitious non-wearer Sandra Brown sent in order to receive an invitation for a job interview. The reason for the rejection of the headscarf is mostly considered from the rising Islamophobia all around Europe.

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