German court backs Christian hospital against headscarf nurse

A German court ruled Wednesday that Christian church-run institutions may generally bar their employees from wearing a Muslim headscarf.

Berlin: A German court ruled Wednesday that Christian church-run institutions may generally bar their employees from wearing a Muslim headscarf.

The Federal Labour Court was judging a complaint by a 36-year-old Muslim nurse against a Lutheran hospital in the western city of Bochum.

In 2010, the woman was barred from returning to her previous job at the hospital after she had taken a months-long break, first for parental leave and then because of sickness.

The court in the central city of Erfurt found that a church institution can generally demand religiously neutral conduct from its non-Christian employees.

"Wearing a headscarf as a symbol of belonging to the Islamic faith and thus as a proclamation of a different religion is incompatible with the contractual obligation of neutral conduct of an employee of an Evangelical Church institution," the court said in a statement.

However, the panel sent the woman`s specific case back to a lower court because the judges were not certain the nurse was in a fit state to work, and to clarify whether the hospital could formally be considered an ecclesiastical institution.

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