Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Brookes Law professor contributes to headscarf debate

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Brookes Law professor contributes to headscarf debate

Lucy Vickers, Professor of Law at Oxford Brookes University, has contributed to the debate around whether or not it is discriminatory to prohibit employees from wearing headscarves at work.

In March 2017 the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) judged its first case on religious discrimination concerning the wearing of headscarves at work. It decided that it was not discriminatory for the employer to dismiss workers for wearing headscarves, but that employers could not require that headscarves be removed merely to accord with customer preference.

Lucy contributed a blog post to the Oxford Human Rights Hub on the CJEU rulings, in which she stated that the decisions represent a missed opportunity to establish strong standards for the protection of religious equality at work. 

Lucy argued “The cases represent one step forward and two steps back in terms of progress. The step forward is that they create a unified approach in Europe under equality law and human rights law, allowing headscarves to be worn, where there are no competing interests such as health and safety concerns, or corporate neutrality policies. However, the ease with which headscarves can be banned in European workplaces may be seen as a backwards step from an equality point of view, as it can continue to marginalise minority groups and deny them access to work.”

Lucy has also contributed a paper on this specific case to the Berkeley Comparative Equality and Anti-Discrimination Law Study Group, which she presented at Trinity College Dublin in June this year.

Lucy Vickers is Professor of Law at Oxford Brookes University. Her main research area is equality law and the protection of human rights within the workplace.