A Muslim woman who was rejected for a job after not shaking a male interviewer’s hand has been awarded over £3,000 in compensation.
Farah Alhajeh was told to leave after telling the male interviewer she could not shake his hand on religious grounds.
Instead, Farah, 24, greeted the man by placing a hand over her heart, a common custom in the Muslim community.
But she claims that as soon as she rejected the handshake she was told to leave the Stockholm office in Stockholm and the interview was terminated.
She said the incident made her flee in tears.
‘As soon as I got into the lift I started crying. It had never happened to me before, it didn’t feel good at all,’ she told STV.
‘It was awful.’
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She decided to lodge a case with the discrimination ombudsman in Sweden and the case went to court.
Farah was eventually awarded £3,420.
The court was told that the unnamed interpreting company’s policy on handshakes was detrimental to Muslims.
It also heard that Farah’s decision to perform a different greeting is protected by the European Convention on Human Rights.
In its defence, the company argued its staff were required to treat everyone equally and her beliefs would cause a problem in the role she was being interviewed for.
However, the court disagreed and ruled in her favour.
In making its decision, it said it had taken into account ‘the employer’s interests, the individual’s right to bodily integrity, and the importance of the state to maintain protection for religious freedom’.
Farah also spoke to the BBC.
Speaking to the BBC, Farah said: ‘I believe in God, which is very rare in Sweden…and I should be able to do that and be accepted as long as I’m not hurting anyone.
‘In my country, you cannot treat women and men differently.
‘I respect that. That’s why I don’t have any physical contact with men or with women.’