international employment law firm alliance L&E Global

Sweden: A prohibition against usage of disposable sleeves for dentists was not considered discriminatory against Muslim women

The Swedish National Dental Health Service decided to prohibit the use of disposable sleeves when protective gloves was required for dentists when dealing with patients. The prohibition was based on a regulation from the Swedish National Board of Health and Wealthfare. The decision resulted in a female Muslim employee resigning since she, because of her religion, believed that she had to cover her arms with disposable sleeves when working with male colleagues. The Swedish National Dental Health Service claimed the decision to be necessary to protect employees and patients from the risk of infection. The Swedish Discrimination Ombudsman, on the other hand, claimed the decision to be indirectly discriminatory against Muslim women covering their arms for religious reasons. The Labour Court found that the prohibition had not been arbitrary implemented and that an investigation concerning the risk of infection had been conducted prior to implementing the prohibition. The decision was also found to be appropriate and necessary in relation to maintaining patient safety. The Labour Court dismissed the claim from the Swedish Discrimination Ombudsman.