Can I Be Forced To Shake Hands To Get A Job?

Ordinarily, I support the rights of individuals and believe there is too much discrimination against Muslims in European nations which refuse to accept the cultural and religious views of a minority. However, a recent case in Sweden raises some interesting questions as to whether there are times when I have to put aside my religious or culture views in order to enter into the world of the country in which I have sought to live. A Swedish court upheld the claim of a Muslim man that he was the object of discrimination by the Swedish National Public Employment Agency.

The man was in a job training program and sent for an interview at a company where he hoped to find employment. During the interview process he refused to shake hands with the female CEO of the company which then declined to have him in their job training program. As a result he was not allowed to continue with his training program at the Employment Agency. He argued that his religion forbid shaking hands with women.

OK, he has a right to hold this view, but what if the job entailed selling products. A refusal to shake hands with female customers would damage the company’s ability to sell its goods. There simply are times when one must accept reality of life in another culture whose values are different.