Chic retailer Abercrombie & Fitch’s hassle over headscarves continues. The Supreme Court recently announced it will hear the case of a Muslim woman who says she was subject to religious discrimination when she was turned down for a job because she wore a hijab, the traditional head covering of Muslim women.  

The case involves Samantha Elauf, who was 17 when she applied for a job at an Ambercrombie Kids store in Oklahoma back in 2008. She was denied a sales position because her headscarf violated the company’s ultra-strict dress code.

The EEOC brought suit against Abercrombie for religious discrimination, and a federal district court found in Elauf’s favor. An appeals court, however, reversed the decision — because Elauf hadn’t specifically asked for an accommodation on religious grounds.

The Supreme Court’s expected to hear the case next January, and a decision is expected in June 2015.

Familiar ground

This certainly isn’t the retailer’s first go-round involving the issues of head coverings.

In 2013, Abercrombie agreed to change its controversial “Look Policy” after losing two two high-profile lawsuits filed by Muslim women.

Details of the two cases:

  • Hani Khan had worked at a Hollister store (owned by Abercrombie & Fitch) in San Mateo, CA, for four months, and had been allowed to wear her Islamic head scarf (known as a hijab) in the workplace so long as it matched company colors. But when a district manager visited the store and saw Khan in her hijab for the first time, he called for her termination, saying the hijab violated the company’s “Look Policy” and detracted from the company brand.
  • Halla Banafa wore a hijab to her interview at an Abercrombie & Fitch store. The manager asked Banafa, “You’re Muslim, right?”, making motions indicating the young woman’s hijab. Banafa replied that she was. Banafa was told that wearing her head scarf wouldn’t be a problem, and the manager gave Banafa a score of 7, a score high enough to recommend her for hire. But in the end, the manager recorded that Banafa didn’t have the “Abercrombie look,” and she wasn’t hired.

Other cases of interest

The High Court has a number of cases on the current docket that should be watched closely by employers. Here’s a quick rundown, courtesy of Workplace Prof Blog:

  • Department of Homeland Security v. MacLean, a whistleblower/retaliation case
  • Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk, whether time spent in security screenings is compensable under the FLSA as amended by the Portal to Portal Act.
  • M&G Polymers v. Tackett, a case about presumptions related to interpretation of CBAs on retiree health benefits under the LMRA.
  • Mach Mining v. EEOC, whether and to what extent the courts can enforce the EEOC’s duty to conciliate before filing suit.
  • Tibble v. Edison, Int’l, an ERISA case involving the duty of prudence and the limitations period for bringing claims.
  • Young v. UPS, whether light duty accommodations only for on-the-job injuries violates Title VII as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

Post Your Resume to 65+ Job Sites
Resume Service

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post