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Religion, Equality and Employment in Europe

The Case for Reasonable Accommodation

By: Katayoun Alidadi
Media of Religion, Equality and Employment in Europe
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Published: 15-06-2017
Format: PDF eBook (?)
Edition: 1st
Extent: 320
ISBN: 9781509911394
Imprint: Hart Publishing
RRP: £36.00
Online price : £28.80
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Loren Epson

About Religion, Equality and Employment in Europe

The management of religious and ideological diversity remains a key challenge of our time – deeply entangled with debates about the nature of liberal democracy, equality, social cohesion, minorities and nationalism, security and foreign policy. This book explores this challenge at the level of the workplace in Europe. People do not surrender their religion of belief at the gates of their workplace, nor should they be required to do so. But what are the limits of accommodating religious belief in the workplace, particularly when it clashes with other fundamental rights and freedoms?

Using a comparative and socio-legal approach that emphasises the practical role of human rights, anti-discrimination law and employment protection, this book argues for an enforceable right to reasonable accommodation on the grounds of religion and belief in the workplace in Europe. In so doing, it draws on the case law of Europe's two supranational courts, three country studies –Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK – as well as developments in the US and Canada. By offering the first book-length treatment of the issue, it will be of significance to academics, students, policy-makers, business leaders and anyone interested in a deeper understanding of the potentials and limits of European and Western inclusion, freedom and equality in a multicultural context.

Awarded an honourable mention from the International Academy of Comparative Law for the 2018 Canada Prize!

Table Of Contents

Introduction: Religion and Employment in Europe. Thick Identities Colliding with Muscular Liberalism
I. The Turn Towards Religion and Accommodation
II. Scope of Analysis and Overview
III. Reasonable Accommodation: Typology, Hard Cases, Substantive Equality and Decommodification
IV. Liberalism, Thick Identities and Coping Mechanisms

PART I. Freedom of Religion out of its Comfort Zone. Religion in the Workplace and Europe's Two Supranational Courts
Manoeuvring a Multi-layered Fundamental Rights Architecture
1. Religion or Belief in the Workplace under the Human Rights Framework
I. Human Rights, Religious Freedom and Diversity
II. The European Convention on Human Rights and the ECtHR
2. The EU and Religion or Belief in the Workplace: From the Rapid Rise of EU Non-Discrimination Law to the Limits of Market-Rationalised Equality Law
I. Introduction: The EU 'Fundamental Rights Revolution'
II. The CJEU and Religious Accommodations in the Workplace

PART II. Religion or Belief in the Belgian, Dutch and British Private Sector Workplace: Between Assimilation Demands and Reasonable Accommodation
European Country Studies: The Importance of Contextualisation
3. The (Non-)Accommodation of Religious Dress in the European Workplace
I. Introduction
II. Religious Dress in the Employment Context in Belgium: Judgment-Proof Restrictive Employer Practices
III. Accommodation of Religious Dress in the Dutch Workplace: Illustrating the Divergent General and Special Effects of Anti-Discrimination Law
IV. Accommodating Religiously Distinct Dress in the British Workplace: Progressive Case Law and
'Flexible Tolerance' on the Ground
V. Comparison: Corporate Neutrality Policies and the Uneven Rooting of Reasonable Accommodation
4. Conflicting Religion-Worktime Demands: Is Europe Keeping Up with the Times?
I. Introduction: Intersection of Human Rights and Working Time Regulation
II. Belgian Case Law on Religion-Worktime Conflicts
III. Dutch Case Law on Religion-Worktime Conflicts
IV. British Case Law on Religion-Worktime Conflicts
V. Conclusion
5. Religious Affiliation Discrimination and Miscellaneous Accommodation
I. Introduction
II. Religious Affiliation Discrimination: The Thin Heart of the Matter?
III. Negative Work Environment and Harassment; Proselytising in the Workplace
IV. Objections to Job Duties Grounded on Religion or Belief
V. Let's Shake on it? Social and Gender Relations in the Workplace
VI. Religious Prayer and Dietary Considerations in the Workplace
6. Country Study Insights and Reasonable Accommodation
I. The Limits of the Law
II. The Added Value of Reasonable Accommodation for Religion and Belief in the European Context
III. Arguments Against Reasonable Accommodation and Rebuttal


“This book offers a comprehensive exploration of a traditionally neglected theme which is of great practical significance for the prosperous development of multi-religious societies. Alidadi presents an innovative combination of findings from different normative and empirical disciplines, particularly law and sociology, and offers critical contributions to central debates within legal theory, including on the meaning of State neutrality vis-à-vis religion, secularity, formal and substantive equality, diversity and multiculturalism …a 'must' for everyone in the future dealing with issues of religious freedom, tolerance or discrimination in the workplace.” –  Heiner Bielefeldt, Professor of Human Rights and Human Rights Policy at the University of Erlangen and Former UN Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief,

“The workplace has become a site of tension for the relationship between religion and other claims of the liberal state, whether those be the rights of others or the economic imperatives of employers. Arguing for the introduction of the notion of 'reasonable accommodation' for the benefit of religious employees, she draws on a range of legal, theoretical and empirical sources to substantiate her claim that this is the best way for European countries to deal with the reality of religious pluralism. This work will become a significant reference point in this ongoing and important debate.” –  Carolyn Evans, Harrison Moore Professor of Law, Melbourne Law School,

“In this major work of scholarship, which adds substantial insights to the blossoming field of law and religion at a critical time, Katayoun Alidadi shows undeniable courage in unambiguously advancing the idea that only a radical openness to religious and ideological diversity will enable European societies to ensure a prosperous, sustainable and economically competitive future in an increasingly mobile and globalised world.” –  From the foreword by Marie-Claire Foblets, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, Germany,

“…a timely, expansive, and tremendously important book which offers a smart, sophisticated examination of divisive issues. Alidadi presents her thought-provoking argument in a balanced and compelling fashion.... The case for reasonable accommodation may very well provoke opposition in the current socio-political European context. But there can be no doubt that this rich study will have an impact on any future academic discussion on the accommodation of religious diversity in the workplace.” –  Rik Torfs, Professor of Canon Law and University Chancellor Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium,

“...this is an impressive book and a distinguished work of scholarship... this is a rich source of references for further research. Academics as well as comparative lawyers will doubtless be interested in this important and seminal work.” –  Elizabeth Taylor and Phillip Taylor MBE, Richmond Green Chambers,

“Alidadi's work will rapidly emerge as the premier study of religion in the workplace. Drawing on extensive empirical and legal research, she provides a powerful analysis pointing to the crucial importance of reasonable accommodation as a vital solution not only in employment settings, but in the larger context of our increasingly diverse societies.” –  W. Cole Durham, Jr., Founding Director, International Center for Law and Religion Studies, Brigham Young University Law School,

“Katayoun Alidadi's monograph is a timely and important contribution to the debate on religious discrimination and accommodation of religious belief (and non-belief) in the workplace.” –  Elisabeth Griffiths, Northumbria Law School, Journal of Religion in Europe

“The greatest strength in the work is in the comparative approach which provides suggestions for English law. It shows how reasonable accommodation applies to different requests made by employees, and so applies practically to different workplace scenarios. This may prove to be useful for both practitioners and academics as reasonable accommodation continues to develop.” –  James Gould, University of Exeter, Ecclesiastical Law Journal

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