A Turkish-origin German woman working for drugstore chain Mueller returned to work after maternity leave wearing a headscarf but was told that doing so is against the company's policy.
The Federal Labour Court of Germany sent a Turkish woman's headscarf case to the European Court of Justice on Thursday.
The case stemming from 2016 revolves around a woman working for German drugstore chain Mueller who returned to work after maternity leave wearing a headscarf. She was told that the headscarf is against the company's policy on religious statements.
Georg Sendelbeck, 35-year-old Cigdem K's lawyer, said at the hearing that the headscarf cannot be treated like a piece of clothing and hung on a coat rack.
Germany's Federal Labor Court on January 30 referred the matter to the European Court of Justice to fully clarify the legal dispute between the employer and the employee.
The Bavarian State Labour Court had earlier rejected the appeal filed by the employer last year and decided in Cigdem K's favour.
Mueller's lawyers say that the freedom of the company was restricted, and referred the case to the Federal Labour Court, referring to the decisions of the European Court of Justice in 2017 that allowed employers to ban staff from wearing Islamic headscarves and other visible religious symbols under certain conditions. The conditions included a threat posed to the business or loss of customers
Nearly 4.7 million Muslims live in Germany where religious freedoms are protected by the constitution.
However, Muslim women who wear headscarves have faced an increasing level of discrimination in recent years amid a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment, triggered by propaganda from far-right and populist parties which have exploited the refugee crisis.