EGMR: Forthcoming judgment on Thursday 26 November 2015 – Ebrahimian v. France (no. 64846/11)

The applicant, Christiane Ebrahimian, is a French national who was born in 1951 and lives in Paris (France). The case concerns the decision not to renew Ms Ebrahimian’s contract of employment as a hospital social worker, because of her refusal to stop wearing a veil.

Ms Ebrahimian was recruited on a fixed-term contract within the public hospital service as a social worker in the psychiatric department of Nanterre Hospital and Social Care Centre. On 11 December 2000 the Director of Human Resources informed her that her contract would not be renewed, on account of her refusal to remove her headgear and following complaints from patients. The Director of Human Resources sent Ms Ebrahimian a written reminder of the Conseil d’Etat’s opinion of 3 May 2000, to the effect that the principles of freedom of conscience, the secular State and neutrality in public services prevented public officials from enjoying the right to manifest their religious beliefs while discharging their functions, and that wearing a visible symbol of religious affiliation constituted a breach of a public official’s duties.

Ms Ebrahimian applied to the Paris Administrative Court to set the decision aside; however, the Court found that the decision not to renew her contract had been in accordance with the principles of the secular State and neutrality in public services. The Paris Administrative Court of Appeal, finding that the decision complained of related to a disciplinary matter, set it aside on grounds of procedural irregularity. In the light of that judgment, the Director of Human Resources invited Ms Ebrahimian to consult her file and, in a reasoned decision of 13 May 2005, confirmed to her once again that her contract would not be renewed. Ms Ebrahimian applied to the Versailles Administrative Court to set that decision aside, but her application was rejected. The Versailles Administrative Court of Appeal upheld that judgment. An appeal on points of law by the applicant was declared inadmissible by the Conseil d’Etat.

Relying on Article 9 (right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion), Ms Ebrahimian complains that the decision not to renew her contract as a social worker is in breach of her right to freedom to manifest her religion.

Press release ECHR 360 (2015) 18/11/2015

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