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A collection, sorted by years, of the most important judicial decisions concerning pluralism.

French Court of Cassation (Cour de Cassation française), Chambre Sociale, No. 19-24.079, 14 April 2021

French Court of Cassation (Cour de Cassation française), Chambre Sociale, No. 19-24.079, 14 April 2021

The French Court of Cassation (Chambre sociale) has ruled on the appeal filed by an employer for the annulment of the Court of Appeal decision that annulled the dismissal of an employee because she had refused to remove her Islamic veil in the workplace.

The worker, an employee of a well-known brand of clothing for women, converted to Islam during the course of her employment and began to wear the Islamic veil. When asked by the employer to remove it, she refused and she was subsequently dismissed.

The French Supreme Court (like the Court of Justice in the well-known case of Asma Bougnaoui, Association de défense des droits de l'homme (ADDH) v. Micropole SA, formerly Micropole Univers SA, C 188/15 of March 14, 2017) had previously confirmed the possibility that, in case of a specific "neutrality" clause drafted by the employer and accepted by the employee (which provided for the non-display of political, philosophical or religious symbols in the workplace), the dismissal of the employee could be considered legitimate if she does not comply with this clause.

In the current case, however, such a neutrality clause was absent and, therefore, the employer claimed that the dismissal had been determined by the lack by the employee of a necessary requirement to carry out the work activity. This requirement was identified in the customers' expectations of the well-known brand of women's clothing.

However, as in the above-mentioned case of the Court of Justice, these considerations were held by the Supreme Court to be merely subjective professional requirements, such that they cannot justify a restriction on the freedom to manifest religious beliefs for the employee.


(Comment by Nadia Spadaro)