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Religion et code vestimentaire au travail en Bulgarie

Bulgarian legislation approaches the issue of religion in the workplace from the perspective of the equal treatment of believers as professionals, but does not provide special rules concerning their dress code. In this regard, the only concrete act is the law imposing a ban on face-covering, adopted by the Bulgarian Parliament in September 2016 (See Eurel, September 2016 : New Bulgarian law bans face-covering). Still, many other aspects linked with the dress code and appearance of believers (who belong to Islam or are affiliated to other religious traditions) that have remained untouched by law. Most often, the conflicts provoked by the use of religious symbols are solved in an administrative way, e.g. Muslim school-girls who refused to remove their headscarves in class were forced to leave the school and finish their education as private students.

In general, the issue of religion in the workplace falls into the scope of the Labor Codex (Article 173.(2)) and Prevention of Discrimination Act (Article 4.1) forbidding any direct and indirect discrimination at the workplace on religious grounds. In addition, the believers from different faiths are allowed to take days off during their religious holidays (Labor Codex, 173.3 ; Prevention of Discrimination Act, Article 13.1). The anti-discrimination law, however, is more specific. It recommends the employers to take into account the religious affiliation of their workers when scheduling their holidays, although it is explicitly mentioned that this depends on the possibility for the industry in question to allow such flexibility, Article 13 (1).

At the same time, the Prevention of Discrimination Act envisions some exceptions. It stipulates that there are specific modes of treatment of people that cannot be defined as discrimination. This is usually the case for those who work or study at religious institutions or organizations, and whose status is determined by specific religious norms (Article 7.3 and 4). In 2008, a new amendment introduced one more exception. According to it, measures that aim to preserve the identity and culture of people who belong to religious, ethnic, and linguistic minorities, cannot be regarded as a discrimination (Article 7.16).

Daniela Kalkandjieva, "‘Secular Orthodox Christianity’ versus ‘Religious Islam’ in Postcommunist Bulgaria", Religion, State and Society, vol. 36 (4), pp. 423-434.

9 février 2017