Not just another Islamic headscarf case: LF v SCRL and the CJEU’s missed opportunity to inch closer to acknowledging intersectionality
On 13 October 2022, the CJEU (hereinafter: the Court) issued a judgment on religious discrimination in employment. In Case C-344/20 (LF v SCRL), the Court held that neutrality provisions prohibiting workers from manifesting their religious or philosophical beliefs do not constitute direct discrimination, provided that they are applied in a general and undifferentiated way.
This ruling is not an anomaly in the Court’s corpus of equality cases concerning Islamic headscarves. However, its significance lies in the Court’s responses to the other questions referred by the French-speaking Brussels Labour Court in Belgium. The referred questions challenged the Court to reassess three elements: its delineation between direct and indirect discrimination, its delineation of comparators in religious discrimination cases, and the acknowledgement of intersectional religious and gender discrimination. Intersectional discrimination describes synergistic disadvantage on the basis of two or more discrimination grounds, resulting in a unique form of discrimination. The aforementioned three elements are interconnected and impact the Court’s overall stance towards intersectionality. By not engaging with these three elements thoroughly, and most notably by not engaging in intersectional analysis of the alluded religious and gender discrimination, it forewent an opportunity to inch closer to acknowledging intersectionality. This is notable, particularly as AG Medina’s Opinion to the case delves into an extensive intersectional analysis.Continue reading