Rabat - On Monday, June 1st, the supreme court ruled 8-1 that Samantha Elauf, a Muslim woman who sued the retail store Abercrombie & Fitch in 2008 or discrimination in the workplace after being turned down for employment because of her hijab, may continue to pursue her claim against the company in court.
Rabat – On Monday, June 1st, the supreme court ruled 8-1 that Samantha Elauf, a Muslim woman who sued the retail store Abercrombie & Fitch in 2008 or discrimination in the workplace after being turned down for employment because of her hijab, may continue to pursue her claim against the company in court.
Despite receiving high marks in her interview, Elauf missed out on the job because her hijab went against the employee “look policy,” which prohibits hats and promotes the style of the brand.
With the help of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Elauf sued the company, who argued that it had no way of knowing that 17 year old Elauf needed a religious accommodation. This excuse did not sit well with the majority of justices, such as conservative Justice Samuel Alito, who proposed this workplace scenario:
“So the first is a Sikh man wearing a turban. The second is a Hasidic man wearing a hat. The third is a Muslim woman wearing a niqab. The fourth is a Catholic nun in a habit,” Alito said. “Now, do you think … that those people have to say, ‘We just want to tell you, we’re dressed this way for a religious reason. We’re not just trying to make a fashion statement’?”
Alito aims to highlight the fact that there are many different ways for an employer to approach the situation without bringing up religion directly. For example, asking a seemingly Middle Eastern man with a long beard if he would be able to comply with a “look policy” that does not permit beards.
This isn’t the first time Abercrombie has been under fire for discrimination in the workplace. The first accusation came from an applicant similar to Elauf who was also rejected from a position because of her hijab, and the second from an employee who was fired because she would not remove hers.
Abercrombie has the backing of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, while Elauf’s supporters include civil, religious and gay rights groups.