Muslim Job Applicant Who Refused Handshake Wins Discrimination Case in Sweden

International Desk, Md. Shawnuzzaman, Staff Reporter, A Muslim girl in Sweden who said she was discriminated towards in a process interview for refusing to shake fingers on religious grounds has been awarded financial repayment with the aid of a labor courtroom.

The woman, Farah Alhajeh, 24, was interviewing for a process as an interpreter at Semantix, a language offerings corporation, within the town of Uppsala, north of Stockholm, in May 2016, whilst the individual conducting the interview provided to introduce her to a male boss. Ms. Alhajeh said she located her hand on her heart as a greeting, smiled, and defined that she avoided physical contact due to the fact she changed into Muslim.

She was shown to the elevator.

“It turned into like a punch in the face,” Ms. Alhajeh, who became born in Sweden, stated by means of telephone from her domestic in Uppsala on Thursday, an afternoon after the ruling. “It changed into the first time someone reacted, and it became a without a doubt harsh reaction.”

A Swedish labor courtroom agreed, ruling on Wednesday that the enterprise had discriminated against Ms. Alhajeh, and ordering it to pay 40,000 kronor, or about $4,350, in compensation.

The case, brought through Sweden’s equality ombudsman, raised severa thorny problems in a rustic already wrestling with questions of immigration and integration. Among them: whether or not a female Muslim worker could refuse to shake palms as a greeting inside the place of work, said Martin Mork, who leads litigation at the ombudsman’s office.

Ms. Alhajeh, the hard work courtroom said in a statement, “adheres to an interpretation of Islam that prohibits handshaking with the opposite intercourse unless it’s far a near member of the family.” The courtroom concluded that “the girl’s refusal to shake hands with people of the opposite intercourse is a spiritual manifestation this is protected below Article nine of the European Convention on Human Rights.”

But the organization with which Ms. Alhajeh had interviewed argued that its staff individuals had been required to deal with ladies and men equally, and that it could not permit a workforce member to refuse handshakes primarily based on gender.

The labor courtroom ruled three to two on Wednesday that whilst the business enterprise become proper to require that employees treat ladies and men equally, together with in how they greet others, it could not require that the greeting in query contain shaking arms. What topics, they stated, become consistency in how males and females were greeted.

“The court docket struck a stability among the interest of gender equality and non secular freedom within the place of work,” Mr. Mork stated.

But Lars Backstrom, who represented the enterprise inside the case, said the hard work court docket’s ruling had gone against Swedish legal guidelines prohibiting discrimination within the administrative center due to gender.

“The Muslim lady did now not take the boss’s hand because he’s a person,” Mr. Backstrom wrote in an electronic mail. “When it comes to personnel who meet clients and other external people, it’s as much as the employers to decide whether or not employees can take place their spiritual or political affiliations.”

Ms. Alhajeh said that she become thrilled with the decision. She stated that she greeted ladies and men the same way in mixed employer, via bringing her hand to her chest. But if she is assembly handiest with ladies, she would possibly shake fingers, she stated.


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