Brussels transport company to pay 50,000 euros for failing to hire woman with headscarf

The labour court in Brussels has ordered the Brussels local transport company MIVB to pay a woman 50,000 euros in compensation after it failed to hire her on two occasions despite her possessing the necessary skills.  The woman wears a headscarf.  The judge ruled that the company had been guilty of direct discrimination of the basis of the woman’s faith and indirect discrimination on the basis of gender.

After the woman, who wears a headscarf, twice failed to get a job with MIVB, the equal opportunities centre Unia and the Human Rights League took the matter to court.

Unia argued that the company failed to recruit the woman despite her possessing the technical skills to fill an administrative role without direct contact with the public. The conviction may have far-reaching ramifications for the MIVB.

Unia’s Els Keytsman: “In practice this means discrimination is no longer allowed, while they did discriminate up till now.  Until now female workers were not allowed to wear a headscarf, but men could keep their beards.  The MIVB will have to revisit their policies!”

The company has now been ordered to pay the woman a year’s salary.

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