MINELRES: Justice Initiative Hails German Court Judgment on Religious Discrimination

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Mon Feb 18 09:43:11 2008


Original sender: Justice Initiative <info@justiceinitiative.org>


Open Society 
Justice Initiative

+1 2125480157
info@justiceinitiative.org
www.justiceinitiative.org 
 
JUSTICE INITIATIVE HAILS GERMAN COURT JUDGMENT ON RELIGIOUS
DISCRIMINATION

Amsterdam, February 11, 2008 - The Open Society Justice Initiative today
welcomed the recent judgment from Germany's Hamburg Labor Court that a
Christian organization which aids immigrants engaged in discrimination
when it refused to hire a non-Christian.

The ruling, one of the first under Germany's 2006 Equal Treatment Act
that implements European Union employment discrimination protections,
underscores the critical role that antidiscrimination legislation plays
in protecting individuals' rights to equality and freedom from religious
and ethnic discrimination.

The case concerned a Christian charity, Diakonisches Werk Hamburg (DWK),
which refused to hire a non-Christian for a position as an integration
counselor for immigrants. While DWK acknowledged that the applicant met
all substantive requirements for the position, which had no religious
component, DWK required the applicant to convert to Christianity before
it would consider her eligible for the position. 

The applicant, a German citizen of Turkish origin, does not observe or
practice any religion and refused to convert to Christianity. Under
German and European Union employment law, religious institutions are
allowed to discriminate based on religion only when religious faith is a
genuine occupational requirement for the job. The Labor Court issued its
written decision on January 31, 2008, finding that religious affiliation
is not an occupational requirement for an integration counselor and that
DWK's refusal to hire the applicant constituted unlawful direct
religious discrimination.

"By ruling in the applicant's favor, the Hamburg Labor Court reaffirmed
the right of individuals to be free from employment-related
discrimination that is based upon their religious beliefs," said Maxim
Ferschtman, senior legal advisor for the Justice Initiative's project on
contemporary forms of discrimination in Europe. "The DWK recognized the
applicant's talents and qualifications for the job but made an unlawful
request that she convert to Christianity to be considered for the job.
The Labor Court has correctly outlawed this sort of requirement."

The Justice Initiative supported the plaintiff's German lawyer,
Sebastian Busch, and will submit a brief on the plaintiff's behalf if,
as expected, DWK appeals the Hamburg Labor Court judgment.

The Justice Initiative's project on contemporary forms of discrimination
in Europe promotes strategic litigation at the intersection of racial,
ethnic, and religious discrimination in European Union states. Later
this month German lawyers, NGOs, and community groups will seek to
develop an antidiscrimination legal strategy at a meeting convened by
the Justice Initiative, the German Institut fur Migrations und
Rassismusforschung, and the Schanzenhof law firm of Hamburg.

Contact: Maxim Ferschtman: +31-20 773 3871 (Amsterdam).

The URL for this page is:
http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=104039 

___________________ 

The Open Society Justice Initiative, an operational program of the Open
Society Institute (OSI), pursues law reform activities grounded in the
protection of human rights, and contributes to the development of legal
capacity for open societies worldwide. The Justice Initiative combines
litigation, legal advocacy, technical assistance, and the dissemination
of knowledge to secure advances in the following priority areas:
national criminal justice, international justice, freedom of information
and expression, and equality and citizenship. Its offices are in Abuja,
Budapest, London, New York and Washington DC.

www.justiceinitiative.org

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