The Rotterdam Municipality recently refused to hire a Muslim man for the job of Customer Mananger, since he refused to shake hands with women. The man complained to the Committee for Equal Treatment (Commissie Gelijke Behandeling, CGB).
The CGB decided to ignore the fact that it resides in a country where the shaking of hands is the norm. There are many ways to show respect and different cultures around the world use different methods for greeting one another. Shouldn't a Dutch municipality expect that it's employees would greet people in the way common to most Dutch?
The Dutch immigration test stresses the fact that people shake hands in the Netherlands. Supposedly because this is the Dutch norm and because that is what's expected of people.
The following is a translation of the CGB press release:
The Municipaliy of Rotterdam made a forbidden distinction on the grounds of religion by rejecting an applicant who refused to shake women's hands. The committe for Equal Treatment judges that the municipality neglected to carefully weigh on the one side its duty to care for a discrimminiation free work environment and on the other side the right of a (potential) employee to interpret his religious experience.
Employers - certainlly when it applies to the government - should care for a discrimination free workplace. Refusing to shake the hand of clients or colleagues of the other sex runs contrary to that in principal. Also if that happens out of religious convictions. The municipality however has not worked out if another respectful manner of greeting is possible. An employer can require the showing of respect, but which shape it should take is not fixed. Though men and women deserve to be greeted in the same way.
For that matter, the clothing style of the man was also brought as reason for the rejection for the post of Customer Manager by the Social Affairs and Employment department. In itself, clothing requirements are allowed. But that should not be used to forbid any religious clothing. The municipality's fear of the problems this clothing style would cause in contact with customers is unfounded. This is a forbidden distinction.
Source: CGB (Dutch)