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The Wearing of Religious Symbols at the Workplace in Sweden

Sundkvist, Nanna LU (2010) JUR091 20101
Department of Law
Abstract
The wearing of religious symbols at the workplace and in schools has been a much debated topic in Sweden and other European countries in recent years. Although headscarves and other religious symbols are quite a common sight at many workplaces in Sweden today, the matter is not uncontroversial. This thesis deals with the legal aspect of the wearing of religious symbols at work. Which legislation is applicable, and which principles are used when balancing the competing rights at stake?
Sweden has an extensive legislation against ethnic and religious discrimination, and legislation which protects freedom of religion. Few cases on religious symbols at work has however been decided based on this legislation, and consequently few conclusions... (More)
The wearing of religious symbols at the workplace and in schools has been a much debated topic in Sweden and other European countries in recent years. Although headscarves and other religious symbols are quite a common sight at many workplaces in Sweden today, the matter is not uncontroversial. This thesis deals with the legal aspect of the wearing of religious symbols at work. Which legislation is applicable, and which principles are used when balancing the competing rights at stake?
Sweden has an extensive legislation against ethnic and religious discrimination, and legislation which protects freedom of religion. Few cases on religious symbols at work has however been decided based on this legislation, and consequently few conclusions can be drawn from domestic case law.
The European Court of Human Rights has dealt with several cases regarding religious symbols, but none of them with Sweden as respondent state. The conclusions drawn are however applicable on Sweden as well but with bearing in mind the differences between Swedish society and the societies in the respondent countries. In the two most significant cases, Dahlab v. Switzerland and Şahin v. Turkey, the Court approved the right of the state to prohibit a woman to work as a teacher when wearing a headscarf respectively expelling a woman wearing a headscarf from university.
Looking at the principles that are discussed by the ECtHR, one can see the balancing between different rights when deciding if there is a right to wear religious symbols at work or not. These principles and what the outcome would have been likely to be in the Swedish context, are discussed in the thesis. Considering the character of Swedish society, it is probable that religious symbols are allowed at the workplace in most cases, since the employee’s right to freedom of religion and non-discrimination in most cases would prevail over the counterpart’s rights and interests, and since health and security matters in most cases are not prevailing. (Less)
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author
Sundkvist, Nanna LU
supervisor
organization
course
JUR091 20101
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Folkrätt
language
English
id
1713352
date added to LUP
2010-11-04 16:24:32
date last changed
2010-11-04 16:24:32
@misc{1713352,
  abstract     = {The wearing of religious symbols at the workplace and in schools has been a much debated topic in Sweden and other European countries in recent years. Although headscarves and other religious symbols are quite a common sight at many workplaces in Sweden today, the matter is not uncontroversial. This thesis deals with the legal aspect of the wearing of religious symbols at work. Which legislation is applicable, and which principles are used when balancing the competing rights at stake?
Sweden has an extensive legislation against ethnic and religious discrimination, and legislation which protects freedom of religion. Few cases on religious symbols at work has however been decided based on this legislation, and consequently few conclusions can be drawn from domestic case law.
The European Court of Human Rights has dealt with several cases regarding religious symbols, but none of them with Sweden as  respondent state. The conclusions drawn are however applicable on Sweden as well but with bearing in mind the differences between Swedish society and the societies in the respondent countries. In the two most significant cases, Dahlab v. Switzerland and Şahin v. Turkey, the Court approved the right of the state to prohibit a woman to work as a teacher when wearing a headscarf respectively expelling a woman wearing a headscarf from university. 
Looking at the principles that are discussed by the ECtHR, one can see the balancing between different rights when deciding if there is a right to wear religious symbols at work or not. These principles and what the outcome would have been likely to be in the Swedish context, are discussed in the thesis. Considering the character of Swedish society, it is probable that religious symbols are allowed at the workplace in most cases, since the employee’s right to freedom of religion and non-discrimination in most cases would prevail over the counterpart’s rights and interests, and since health and security matters in most cases are not prevailing.},
  author       = {Sundkvist, Nanna},
  keyword      = {Folkrätt},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {The Wearing of Religious Symbols at the Workplace in Sweden},
  year         = {2010},
}