• France's news in English
 

Nursery assistant wins reprieve over veil sacking

Published: 19 Mar 2013 12:31 GMT+01:00
Updated: 19 Mar 2013 18:45 GMT+01:00

Fatima Afif, a nursery assistant sacked in 2008 by the ‘Baby Loup’ creche for refusing to remove her Muslim headscarf at work, won an appeal against her dismissal on Tuesday.

In delivering their verdict judges at Paris's 'Cour de cassation' - France's highest appeals court, said her firing "constituted discrimination based on religious convictions and must be declared invalid."

The privately-run daycare centre in the Yvelines suburb of Paris has rules requiring its staff to maintain “philosophical, political and denominational neutrality” at work.

However, the court found on Tuesday that because 'Baby Loup' is a private establishment, and it was not an "urgent professional necessity" that Afif remove her veil,  France's "principle of secularism does not apply."

The principle cannot be invoked to deny "employees of private companies that do not perform a public service... the protections guaranteed them under the work code," the appeals court ruled.

The nursery was also ordered to pay €2,500 in compensation to their former employee, according to Le Parisien newspaper.

The case however is not yet concluded and will be re-heard before a lower court of appeal in Paris at a later date.

Michel Henry, a lawyer for Afif had previously argued that the crèche’s internal rules should be trumped by “the exercise of a fundamental freedom, the freedom of religion,” he was quoted as saying by French television TF1 on Tuesday.

Before Tuesday's ruling, Afif had had her appeal against the dismissal rejected on two occasions.

In 2010 a labour relations board found that her sacking was justified by “blatant and repeated insubordination.”

An appeals court in 2011 agreed, stating that young children in the crèche “should not be confronted by ostentatious displays of religious affiliation.”

The wearing of religious symbols or clothing in public (state-run) schools has been illegal in France since 2004.

Although ‘Baby Loup’ is a private establishment, and despite having an overwhelmingly Muslim clientele, one of its lawyers, Richard Malka, had argued it has the right to deem itself a “secular business". He believes Afif’s religious freedom should not be considered more important than the culture of the crèche.

Since the case emerged in 2008, it has attracted the attention of both religious freedom advocates, and defenders of France’s tradition of strict secularism (known as ‘laïcité’), such as current Interior Minister and Socialist deputy Manuel Valls, who had publicly supported the crèche.

On Tuesday Valls told France's National Assembly he regretted the court's ruling, claiming that it "calls into doubt the principle of secularism," according to TF1.

Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Eight French killed after figher jet crashes
A Greek F-16D jet. File photo: Jerry Gunner/Wikimedia

Eight French killed after figher jet crashes

Eight French nationals were killed along with two Greeks when a Greek fighter jet crashed at a military base in Spain on Monday. READ  

The view from France
'Syriza victory is good news for French people'
Alexis Tsipras raises his arm as he celebrates being named Greece's new PM. Photo: AFP

'Syriza victory is good news for French people'

A French Communist Party senator tells The Local the result of the Greek election can be a wake-up call for the people of France. READ  

Road Safety in France
France bans hands-free kits to cut road deaths
A dummy goes flying at a crash test course for students in Le Mans, north-western France. Photo: AFP

France bans hands-free kits to cut road deaths

UPDATED: France's interior minister announced a raft of measures on Monday aimed at improving road safety, with a heavy focus on preventing alcohol-related accidents as well the use of mobiles at the wheel. READ  

Isis urges new attacks after Paris shootings
France has bolstered security across the country since the attacks on Charlie Hebdo. Photo: AFP

Isis urges new attacks after Paris shootings

The Islamic State jihadist group Isis urged Muslims on Monday to carry out new attacks similar to the Paris shooting at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, where 17 people were killed. READ  

French hardline Catholics buy up gay bar
A gay bar in Toulon has been bought by a Catholic group. Photo: Guillaume Paumier

French hardline Catholics buy up gay bar

A hardline French Catholic group has bought the gay bar next to its local church, hoping to turn it into a religious meeting place. But the head of the city's gay community tells The Local that the church will need "a whole bunch of exorcists" to turn it around. READ  

The French baby names the law wouldn't allow
Not everyone was "Happy" about some of these French baby names. Photo: Loren Javier/Flickr

The French baby names the law wouldn't allow

As parents in France have been told that they can't name their kids "Nutella" or "Strawberry" (fraise), The Local takes a look at some other baby names that have fallen foul of the law over the years. READ  

French far right's Le Pen senior hurt in house fire
Jean-Marie Le Pen, pictured here with his daughter Marine, was injured at a house fire near Paris on Monday. Photo: AFP

French far right's Le Pen senior hurt in house fire

The founder and honorary president of France's National Front party, Jean-Marie Le Pen, was slightly injured on Monday in an accidental fire at his house outside Paris. READ  

Bid to 'unblock' economy goes before French MPs
In "tourist zones", like the iconic Champs Elysees in Paris, shops could open every Sunday and until midnight every day. Photo: Oh Paris/Flickr

Bid to 'unblock' economy goes before French MPs

French MPs are set to debate a contentious series of reforms aimed to "unblock" France's struggling economy, including plans to extend Sunday shopping hours from five days a year to twelve. READ  

Paris Fashion Week: Penises and androgyny
A new look from US designer Thom Browne during the men's Fall/Winter 2015 fashion show in Paris. Photo: AFP

Paris Fashion Week: Penises and androgyny

IN PICTURES: The five days of Paris men's fashion are over. Here's a wrap up of what we can expect for this coming autumn and winter. READ  

Bettencourt trial rocked by attempted suicide
President of the Court House in Bordeaux, Denis Roucou (C) waits, on January 26, 2015, to lead the first day of the trial of ten people charged with exploiting France's richest woman Liliane Bettencou

Bettencourt trial rocked by attempted suicide

The trial of ten people accused of exploiting France's richest woman Liliane Bettencourt was rocked on Monday after the court was told that one of the accused, her former nurse, attempted to commit suicide on the eve of the trial. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
France has no entrepreneurs!? What about fart pills for windy lovers?
Society
Nutella to Happy: The wacky French baby names banned by law
Culture
Men's Fashion Week in Paris in pictures - from penises to androgyny
Health
Could France be the next country to ban sunbeds?
Gallery
Ten French words you will never hear in France
National
Wrap up warm: Big freeze to hit northern France at the weekend
National
Muslims in France - 'They say we're not French'
National
Paris wants New York-inspired 'citizen cards'
Gallery
An architect has shown how he thinks Paris should look in 2050
Culture
Where are the real "no-go zones" in Paris? We've listed 10.
Society
Cheese diet helps oldest Frenchman live to 110
National
Charlie Hebdo chief stands firm over cartoons as global protests spread
National
To be or not to be Charlie? Muhammad cartoons divide French
National
'It feels like I'm in a warzone': Paris tourist
National
Are there really 'no-go zones' in Paris?
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
National
A futuristic vision of Paris revealed... and other news
National
What now for France post-terror attacks?
National
France to beef up its surveillance powers
National
Charlie Hebdo sells out within hours in France
Politics
Paris attacks: Knock-on effects in Sweden and across Europe
National
France moves to crack down on terror speech in aftermath of attacks
National
French Muslims react to Charlie Hebdo's Muhammad cover
National
'I only had a few seconds to hide from the Kouachis'
National
After three days of terror France feels like a nation
National
IN PICTURES: France's biggest street demos in recent history
National
And in other news in France ...
National
A defiant France rises up on solidarity like never before
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Paris marches for unity after terror attacks
National
OPINION: 'As bloody as it's been, France is not at war'
National
'It's a true nightmare': Parisians react to terror attacks
National
French to march in unity to help heal their wounded nation
National
Profile: the most wanted woman in France
National
Twitter disgust over 'I am Kouachi' hashtag
National
The incredible stories of how some survived the Paris gunmen
National
Al Qaeda threatens a shaken France with more terror
Gallery
The Paris terror attacks from start to end in 27 photographs
National
Global leaders to stand side by side with France
National
French Muslim leaders slam 'odious' attacks
National
Charlie Hebdo gunmen killed as twin siege ends
Gallery
10 of the most powerful cartoons after the Charlie Hebdo attacks
National
Disunited: French far-right 'barred' from national unity rally in Paris
National
Muslim targets attacked after magazine killings
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

457
jobs available