After a long struggle for her freedom, 24 year old Farah Alhajeh has won the case against the company where she went for the job interview. While applying for the interpreter at the company, Farah refused handshake with a na-mehram and placed her hand on her heart as a sign of courtesy and gratitude.
Due to her refusal to shake hands, she was denied the job. She took her case of the court and has finally won it. The Swedish labour court ruled that the company has discriminated against her and hence was ordered to pay her a compensation of 40,000 kronor ($4,350 or £3,420).
Though it is customary in Europe to greet each other shaking hands, Sweden’s discrimination ombudsman’s office, who presented Farah’s case said that the judgment has taken “the employer’s interests, the individual’s right to bodily integrity, and the importance of the state to maintain protection for religious freedom” into account.
The company had argued that the staff has to treat men and women equally hence refusing a handshake was against the rules. The court agreed that the company is right in demanding equal rights and same treatment for both genders, but said that she can greet both men and women similarly – by putting the hand on her heart and showing gratitude. Her refusal to shake hand on the basis of religious reasons is protected by the European Convention on Human Rights, as it is that company’s requirement for ‘specific’ greetings is detrimental to Muslims.
Court also rejected the company’s argument that Farah’s choice of interaction will cause any hindrance in effective communication. The judges were however divided over it – 3 voted in favour of Farah while 2 against her.
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