The Swedish court on labor disputes ruled that the Muslim woman, whose interview was interrupted due to her refusal to shake hands with male colleagues for religious reasons, experienced indirect discrimination.
The Swedish Ombudsman for Discrimination appealed to the court, arguing that a woman who was not supposed to meet with clients in her office was discriminated against.
The company acknowledged that it considers mizophobia and autism to be legitimate reasons not to shake hands, but stated that its policy encourages employees to treat all colleagues equally, regardless of their gender.
Refusal to shake hands with colleagues of the opposite sex is contrary to this policy, the report said.
The company also claimed that this policy is not discriminatory towards Muslims as a whole, since most Muslims shake hands with both men and women.
The woman herself claimed that in situations where both men and women are present, she greets women equally – smiling and moving one hand to the heart – so that men do not feel offended.
In its judgment, the court indicated that understanding religious reasons for which it prefers such a greeting means that “there is no reason to perceive it as degrading or as an aversion, and therefore it should not lead to conflicts in the workplace.”
In addition, the decree says nothing about the fact that a woman “can not work on gender-equal work or that her religion will create obstacles or difficulties at work or in business.”
The court also criticized the policy of isolating those people who profess Islam in the same way as a woman, but noted that the employer does not intend to discriminate against it.
When making a decision to compensate for harm to a woman, this circumstance is taken into account, as well as the fact that it is impossible to determine if she would have been given work if the interview had been completed.
Therefore, the court ruled that the woman should receive compensation in the amount of 40 thousand kronor (about 4,350 dollars).