The Dutch chain store Hema has admitted that it didn't treat its shop assistant in a fair way. Hema has proposed 20-year-old Joyce to return and to take a new job with Hema, but she refuses as it involves a position where she would no longer have contact with customers.
The Hema store in Genk (Limburg province) decided earlier this week not to extend the temporary contract of a shop assistant because she wears a headscarf. It was reported that she was violating the company's dress code. Hema had made the decision after complaints made by customers. The young woman refused to work without her head scarf and her contract was terminated. The case quickly made the headlines in the Belgian press.
However, Hema has now admitted that it did not treat the young woman correctly. "By allowing a headscarf first and forbidding it later, Hema did not act correctly towards this temporary employee", a statement said. It came after a meeting with Belgium's anti-racism centre.
Meanwhile, Hema Belgium announced in a clarification to its uniform regulations that employees may not wear headscarves. Jan Coppejans, human resources manager, explained that in order to protect the chain's neutral and discrete image, all expressions of faith were forbidden, as well as tattoos and piercings.
Hema says they employ 850 people in Belgium, and not one wears a headscarf. The chain does allow its Dutch employees to wear headscarves.