Muslim woman with headscarf sues Abercrombie for not hiring her; Supreme Court agrees to hear case

The Supreme Court announced Thursday that it will determine if Abercrombie & Fitch discriminated against a Muslim woman by not hiring her because her headscarf violated the company’s dress code.

The high court agreed to hear the Obama administration’s appeal of a lower court ruling, according to the Washington Times. Arguments will be heard next year.

Samantha Elauf originally filed suit in 2009 saying she applied for a job at an Abercrombie & Fitch store in Tulsa, Okla., wearing a traditional hijab. She didn’t get the job.

The case has flipped back and forth ever since. A federal judge first ruled in favor of Elauf. The U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission, which sued on behalf of Elauf on religious discrimination grounds, argued that Abercrombie refused to hire her because her headscarf violated the company’s “look policy.”

But the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision, persuaded by Abercrombie’s argument that the company wasn’t at fault because Elauf failed to reveal that she needed to wear the headscarf for religious reasons, the Times reported.

Government lawyers argue that it should not be the applicant’s responsibility to raise questions about a potential religious conflict.

After facing two similar conflicts regarding woman wearing hijabs, Abercrombie has since changed its policy to allow employees to wear the headscarves, even though they may not reflect the company’s “classic East Coast collegiate style.”

The controversies – including last year’s claims that CEO Michael Jeffries only wanted “thin and beautiful people” wearing the brand — have led to declining sales for the Ohio-based retailer, according to the Times.

Hannah Bleau


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