BRUSSELS—The European Union’s top court said Thursday that employers may ban the wearing of head scarves and other religious symbols but set out conditions on when such prohibitions comply with the bloc’s antidiscrimination laws.
The ruling comes amid intensifying debate in Europe over racism and the protection of minority rights following a surge of anti-immigrant parties over recent years. Rules over wearing head scarves, which vary widely across the bloc, have come to symbolize controversy over calls to integrate Europe’s Muslim population.
French President Emmanuel Macron and other French authorities have increasingly sought to curtail the display of religious symbols amid a campaign to assert the country’s secular state.
Meanwhile, following widespread antiracism protests in the U.S. after the killing of George Floyd, there have been growing calls in some Western European countries to push back against discrimination and racism.
Judges of the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice in their ruling Thursday upheld a 2017 decision by the court saying that a private company’s decision to ban the wearing of a head scarf to promote a neutral working environment wasn’t necessarily discriminatory.