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About Case Law

Case Law

Cour d'appel de Paris; 18ème Chambre [Appeal Court of Paris; 18th Chamber]
Area Employment & training
Form of Discrimination Direct discrimination
Grounds of discrimination Discrimination on ground of religion or belief
Topic Discrimination by private parties
Headscarf , Discrimination on ground of religion or belief , France , legal finding, court decision , Termination of employment .
Key facts of the case:

A woman from Algeria was dismissed after 18 months with the company 'Téléperformance' because she refused to modify the way she wore her veil. The woman had always worn the veil, even during the recruitment interview and during the 18 months she worked with the company.
The dismissal letter expressly referred to the refusal of the employee to give up the demonstration of her religious convictions (that is, wearing the Islamic veil).

The court ordered the company to re-employ the women, to pay her wages since the date when she was fired and moral damages.

Main reasoning/argumentation:

Since the dismissal letter expressly referred to the refusal of the employee to give up the demonstration of its religious convictions, the dismissal had all appearances of a measurement prohibited within the meaning of the article L.122-45 of the Labor Code (any dismissal in relation to the religious convictions must be considered as null). It was the responsibility of the employer to prove that his decision had been justified by objective elements having nothing to do with any discrimination. This the employer failed to prove according to the interpretation of the court.

Key issues (concepts, interpretations) clarified by the case:

The court established the offence of 'discrimination because of religion' and stated that the French secularity principle only concerned public offices or companies. Thus, according to the court, secularity cannot be put forward in a case of dismissal by a private company.

Results and most important consequences, implications of the case:

This case created a legal precedent which made it possible for Muslim women to wear the Islamic veil in private companies. However, the law of 15 March 2004 on the application of the principle of secularity in public schools and some other cases reaffirmed that the Islamic veil is prohibited in public institutions.