Religious Discrimination in the Workplace: Has the ECJ Gone Too Far in its Case-Law?

Discrimination belongs to the most political topics on the EU's plate. In its case law, the Court of Justice extended the responsibility for achieving equality also to private actors: to employers who are hiring (C-54/07 Feryn) but also to those who are not (C-507/18 NH). Furthermore, the ECJ took a rather ambivalent stance to “workplace ideological neutrality” in C-157/15 Achbita and C-188/15 Bougnaoui, issued on the same day. Its position has, however, become considerably more radical in its recent ruling in C-804/18 WABE and MH Müller where it held that “ideological neutrality” can even amount to direct (!) discrimination. Where does this line of case-law leave us? The paper will focus on the tension between religious freedom and freedom to conduct business and will set the ECJ's case law into a broader context, including the ECtHR's jurisprudence and wider theoretical considerations of human rights enforcement and balancing.