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Religious dress

Religious dress or appearance discrimination is treating people unfairly because they wear clothes or adornments that are required by or symbolic of their religion.

The protection applies at work, when applying for a job, and also when studying. It does not apply in other situations usually covered by equal opportunity law, such as in the supply of goods or the provision of services. Nor does it apply at a religious school where the student wants to wear dress or adornments of a different religion.

Discrimination includes treating the person less favourably than others because of the person's dress. It also includes asking them to alter their appearance or remove the religious dress.


Malika arrived at her new public school wearing a headscarf in accordance with the teachings of her religion. The school uniform did not include a headscarf and her teacher asked her to take the scarf off until school had finished for the day. Malika was sent to detention when she refused. Malika could claim she was discriminated against because of her religious dress.

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