Perfumery Douglas under fire for hiding headscarf wearing employee from clients

Douglas
Douglas. Photo: Donald_Trung / Wikimedia Commons

Perfumery Douglas in Leeuwarden caused a social media uproar by moving a saleswoman who wears a headscarf to their warehouse so that she is no longer in the shop with clients. The perfumery announced that it will adjust its clothing guidelines.

The manager of the Leeuwarden branch of Douglas confirmed to AD that the woman is no longer allowed to work in the shop, but would say nothing further. On Thursday Douglas Nederland told the newspaper that the manager acted according to the company's dress code. "Our sales employees are not allowed to wear clothing that expresses political, philosophical or religious beliefs." 

According to Douglas, the company wants to radiate 'neutrality and unity' and their sales persons are the company's calling card. "We are against any form of discrimination. This is precisely why we've had our dress code for years, so that it is clear for everyone: we are completely neutral and want to radiate it. That way everyone can feel welcome with us."

The Leeuwarden branch faced a storm of criticism, mainly on social media. Though there were also many who expressed their support for Douglas' decision. There were calls to "boycott" this "PVV shop". Others pointed out that Douglas' dress code is inconsistent with the fact that the company advertises specifically for Muslims every year around Eid. Other people praised Douglas for moving the headscarf wearing employee to the warehouse. "Finally we can put a retailer in the spotlight. Hooray Douglas!", PVV senator Rene Dercksen said on Twitter.

The commotion prompted Douglas to change its dress code, RTL Nieuws reports. Late on Thursday night the company said that it regrets the commotion caused by its clothing guidelines. "We will therefore adjust the policy and inform our employees as soon as possible", the company said, adding that adjusting their policy will take time. "It was never our intention to hurt people."

Douglas' current clothing policy is not against the law. Last year the European Court of Justice ruled that companies may ban workers from wearing headscarves. According to the court, doing so is not discrimination as long as the company's regulations state that "making any political, philosophical or religious sign visible" is forbidden - almost word for word what Douglas said to AD on Thursday. 

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