Top EU court rules: Employers may ban religious symbols in the workplace

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Top EU court rules: Employers may ban religious symbols in the workplace

Ruling last month by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg “is a step backwards from religious freedoms,” Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt said

Man wearing a kippah in public
Man wearing a kippah in public

Employers may forbid workers from wearing religious clothes or symbols on the job, a top European Union court ruled, spurring protest by Muslin and Jewish groups.

The ruling last month by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg “is a step backwards from religious freedoms,” Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on Friday. Its full text was published last week.

The decision, which reaffirms and expands on a 2017 ruling by the same tribunal, was on claims by two Muslim women in Germany whose employers banned them from wearing headscarves to work. They sued their employers — a German court referred the case to the EU court based on the precedent.

“This is basically a ruling that says it’s OK for employers to tell Muslim women not to wear headscarves, but the implications are broader and extend to Jewish women, Jewish men wearing a kippah and Christians wearing a cross pendant,” Goldschmidt said.

The rabbi said he was not aware of current work disputes of this kind involving Jews.

In its ruling, the court cited the need to preserve an atmosphere of “neutrality” in the workplace, adding that any workplace ban must correspond to a genuine “need” by employers.

Many advocates of steps to limit the wearing of religious symbols in public argue it is designed as a response to political Islam.

IGMG, an organisation in Germany for people of Turkish descent, criticised the ruling as “unconstitutional.”

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: