Muslim employees sue airport for discrimination

Muslim Guards

The case of four Muslim security guards who are claiming discrimination is now making its way through the French court system.

According to TheLocal.fr, the men, who work at Orly Airport, became targets after they refused to shave their beards.

Securitas, the company that manages Orly’s security, summoned a number of Muslim men to a meeting shortly after the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris. All the men at the meeting had beards and all of them worked in customer-facing positions at security checkpoints.

Securitas’s management asked the men to shave, citing the company's official grooming policy and a desire to make customers comfortable.

Many of the men complied, but four men refused. They were suspended shortly after the meeting. Months later, they were dismissed from their jobs.

Their attorney, Eric Moutot, said, "They’d had beards for years and then suddenly that becomes a problem."

For its part, Securitas denies the allegations of discrimination. They said they were merely enforcing company rules requiring short, well-kept facial hair.

While the employees may try to argue that their beards are religious symbols, that argument is not guaranteed to succeed. Earlier this year, the European Court of Justice ruled that companies were allowed to ban their workers from wearing or displaying religious symbols.

Still, the case’s arguments are expected to focus on the religious freedom question and the definition of short and well-kept facial hair. 

The case is being heard in an industrial tribunal in Bobigny.

All Paris airport employees were subject to additional screening after the November 2015 attacks. 70 workers lost their “secure zone access” at Orly and Charles de Gaulle.

According to the head of Aeroports de Paris, the most common reason that employees had their access revoked was radicalization.

There are still 85,000 people with secure access at the two airports.

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