Story By: Aleksandra Stefanova, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Central European News
A Muslim woman who complained she was turned down for a teaching job because she wanted to wear her headscarf in class has been awarded compensation.
The German state of Berlin has been ordered by the State Labour Court of Berlin-Brandenrburg to pay 5,159 EUR (4,552.69 GBP) in damages to a Muslim teaching applicant because she was “disadvantaged” because of her religion.
The woman, a computer scientist, had applied as a lateral entry employee for teaching positions at a secondary school, a grammar school and a vocational college.
The vocational college said she was rejected for a position after an interview due to being outmatched by other applicants, but her lawyers argued it was because of her refusal to remove her headscarf that left her “disadvantaged”.
Berlin has a neutrality law prohibiting police officers, judiciary employees and teachers at schools of general education from wearing religious clothing.
While it applies to schools of general education it does not apply to vocational colleges.
The court deemed the case as being discrimination on religious grounds as her headscarf was deemed to have been discussed during her interview.
According to a court spokesman, it was ruled she would get one and a half of of her projected monthly salary.
The court stated in its ruling that in the case of the Muslim woman, there was no specific danger to the school’s peace or the state’s neutrality by means of the headscarf.
Lawyer Seyran Ates, representing the state of Berlin in the case, said that the state will appeal the ruling to the Federal Labour Court as the judges’ reasoning was “flawed”.
She said: “I consider the verdict as wrong. Religious problems are not solved by women with headscarves appearing in front of the class.”
The computer scientist had lost the case in the first instance in May this year at the Berlin Labour Court.
Marian Wendt of the Christian Democratic Union criticised the most recent ruling: “I cannot comprehend the verdict at all. There is an obligation for neutrality at German schools.
“Anyone appearing in front of class with the religious symbol of the headscarf violates that. I hope that the judges at the Federal Labour Court see this likewise.”