Tuesday, 19 March 2013

French appeal court was right to overturn créche firing of woman in an Islamic headscarf

Woman wearing a hijab
The French supreme appeals court has decided to overturn the 2008 decision of Parisian region créche Baby-Loup to fire a female employee because she wore a hijab - an Islamic headscarf - to work. The créche had dismissed her on the grounds of "the obligation of political, philosophical or confessional neutrality" as defined by its employee code of conduct rules, which is now de facto illegal as things stand.

In its judgement the court declared that "involving as it does a private créche" the employee's dismissal for 'serious professional misconduct' constituted "discrimination against religious principles" and that it must be declared "null and void". The judgement went on to state that a previous judgement by a court in Versailles which had declared the dismissal to be legal would also be overturned. The case will now be sent back to be judged before a court of appeal in Paris.

The court also found that the principle of 'laïcité' - the strict French version of secularity - could not be invoked to deprive "employees of private companies which do not supply a public service [...] of the protection of workplace legislation".

This judgement is a sensible one. France already has some of the strictest secular laws in the world, which ban the wearing of almost all religious insignia and clothing in public administrations, schools, hospitals and other state-run organisations. If France sees things that way so be it, but whether we agree with those laws or not French lawmakers are quite rightly at liberty to vote laws as they see fit as long as they do not transgress human and other rights.

And I even agreed with the banning of the burqua in public because I defend the principle that Western society relies on people being able to relate to others via the interpretation of facial expression.

But the idea of strict secularism imposing itself in the private sector is a step too far. Not only that, the court's decision is coherent with respect to a 2004 law which, although imposing strict laïcité in public schools, sensibly exempts private schools.

France is a country in which the state already pokes its nose into people's lives far more than is the case compared to what happens in other Western countries, but if private organisations in France were ever forced to bow to state-inspired ideology it would only be a matter of time before this ideology were imposed upon citizens in their own homes.


  1. I could not agree more about banning the burqua in public. It amazes me at airports when I see them walking through customs and immigration, how do they get away with it? They may not necessarily even be female!! I cannot see though that an Islamic headscarf is doing any harm, other people wear scarves as well and not for religious reasons!

    Enjoy your salt cod stew, bon appetit. Diane

    1. Yes, exactly, and even worse is having to watch the archaic custom of men walking behind their wives, who are carrying most of the baggage, or even all of it.

      As to headscarves, well I posted more on that today. And the news is NOT good.

      Oh and I am going to cook the salt cod stew tomorrow!

      Have a good afternoon,