Joined Cases IX v WABE eV and MH Müller Handels GmbH v MJ
Register number :
Applicable law/instrument :
Branch of law :
Judgement date :15/07/2021
In Joined Cases C‑804/18 and C‑341/19, the CJEU was presented with two requests for a preliminary ruling regarding direct and indirect discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief as per Articles 2(2)(a) and 2(2)(b) of Directive 2000/78/EC establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation. The cases concerned two employees working for separate companies who were banned from wearing an Islamic headscarf at their place of work.
The CJEU ruling largely confirmed its previous judgement from 2017 (Case C‑157/15 Achbita vs G4S Secure Solutions NV) establishing that an internal rule prohibiting workers from wearing any visible sign of political, philosophical or religious beliefs in the workplace, does not constitute direct discrimination provided that that rule is applied in a general and undifferentiated way. [Para. 55].
The ruling further establishes that a difference of treatment indirectly based on religion or belief emerging from such a prohibition may be justified by an employer’s neutrality policy; this policy must meet a genuine need, the difference of treatment must be appropriate, and the prohibition must be limited to what is strictly necessary. Furthermore, the prohibition must cover all visible forms of expression of political, philosophical or religious beliefs. [Para. 70].
The CJEU also provided an interpretation of Article 8 of Directive 2000/78, confirming that national provisions protecting the freedom of religion may be taken into account as more favourable provisions, in examining the appropriateness of a difference of treatment indirectly based on religion or belief. [Para 90].