Making Room for Religion in the Workplace in a Diverse Society: A Comparative Perspective

  • Nicole GarbinEmail author
Part of the Ius Gentium: Comparative Perspectives on Law and Justice book series (IUSGENT, volume 77)


In March 2017, almost seventeen years after the adoption of Directive 2000/78/EC establishing the general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation, the Court of Justice of the European Union delivered its two first and long-awaited judgments concerning the manifestation of beliefs in the workplace in the cases Achbita (Case C-157/15) and Bougnaoui (Case C-188/15). Both cases concern Muslim women employees in private companies who had been dismissed for wearing a headscarf at work. The purpose of this chapter is to explore from a comparative perspective how protection against discrimination on the grounds of religion and freedom of religion is granted in the workplace, and how protection is expanded or restricted in light of concepts such as ‘neutrality’ or ‘undue hardship’. The focus of the chapter is the private workplace, but references (where relevant) are made to rules governing the public sector. After a short introduction on the international legal framework, the chapter examines how freedom of religion and protection against discrimination are regulated in Europe under the European Convention on Human Rights and in EU law. The second part sheds light on the USA and Canada’s safeguards against religious discrimination in labour relations, analysing the scope of protection and its limits. The contribution concludes with a comparison of the systems examined in order to establish whether and to what extent similar tensions can be identified and whether a convergence of solutions is suitable and possible in the future.


Labour law Non-discrimination Religion Human rights 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Minority Rights Group EuropeBudapestHungary

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