For the first time, Helsinki District Court ruled on a case of discrimination based on religious attire. On Monday it fined two managers of a Helsinki clothing store for dismissing an employee over wearing a headscarf.

"Even if there are image reasons that lie behind it, an employer should be prepared that this kind of situation is going to come up," says Seppo Koskinen, a professor of labour law at Turku University.

Faith-based attire – including headscarves and turbans – has aroused debate and legal disputes around Europe. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that employers cannot ban such symbols on the basis of corporate image – which is how the Helsinki clothing shop rationalised its dismissal of the Muslim worker. She'd been hired on a one-month contract but was fired on her first day when she showed up wearing a headscarf.

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