Italian firm wrong to not hire hijab-wearing woman: court

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The woman was not put forward for a role at a shoe fair because she refused to remove her hijab. Photo: Cristian/Flickr
09:29 CEST+02:00
An appeals court in Milan has ruled that a company discriminated against an Italian woman of Egyptian origin when it refused to hire her because she wouldn’t take off her Islamic headscarf.

The case dated back to April 2013, when the woman, who at the time was a university student, applied for a job as a hostess with an events company, which would have involved handing out flyers at the Micam shoe fair.

Sara, who was 21 at the time, was excluded from the selection process after saying that, if hired for the role at the two-day event, she would not be willing to remove her hijab.

She had responded to an advert from Evolution Events, based in Imola, which was searching for two women to hand out leaflets on behalf of a company exhibiting at the event.

After sending a photo of herself wearing the headscarf, the company asked if she would be willing to remove it, to which she responded ‘no’, explaining that she wore it for religious reasons.

Because of this, Evolution declined to send her application to its client. In court, the company argued that it selects applicants on the basis of “aesthetics and image” and that its clients “would never be so flexible”.

The woman, who was born in Italy to Egyptian parents, then sued for discrimination based on religion and gender.

A court in Lodi, Lombardy, rejected the case, arguing that the applicant for the role also had to conform with the employer’s “image” requirements.

The Milan appeals court overturned this decision, ordering the company to pay the woman €500 in damages.

Last week a tourist from Saudi Arabia wearing a niqab – a traditional garment worn by women, which leaves only their eyes on show – was stopped from entering a museum in Padua.

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As the woman tried to enter the Musei Eremitani complex , security staff asked her to remove the veil so that she could be identified before going inside.

When she refused the request and demanded to know why she was not being permitted access to the museum, staff called the police, who eventually convinced the woman to show her face so they could check her identity.

Read more: Niqab-wearing tourist stopped from entering Italian museum

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