American Supreme Court to tackle Abercrombie's hijab

American Supreme Court to tackle Abercrombie's hijab

The American Supreme Court is currently tackling the case of a young Muslim woman who was not hired by Abercrombie & Fitch because of her headscarf. It looks like the nine judges will rule in favour of the plaintiff.

Clothing policy or discrimination

Back in 2008, Samanta Elauf (17 at the time) applied for a job as a sales model at Abercrombie & Fitch's children's department. The assistant manager gave her good grades and even recommended her to the district manager, mentioning she did wear a black headscarf, possibly because of religious beliefs. The district manager subsequently decided to change her scores and she did not get the job.

 

A lower court already decided the plaintiff was right, but Abercrombie & Fitch won on appeal: the applicant should have asked for an exception on the clothing rules, based on her religious beliefs. Abercrombie & Fitch feels headscarves do not fit the company's clothing policy, which prohibits black clothing and headgear. Elauf replied she was not informed about the company's clothing policy.

 

How much room for religion?

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission intervened and brought the case to the Supreme Court, where its 9 judges now have to decide whether employers have to give their employees room for their religious beliefs.

 

Abercrombie stated it cannot know whether applicants do certain things because of their religious beliefs if they do not come forward with that information spontaneously, claiming that "Otherwise, we will have to train our people to recognize stereotypes", but the judges have seemingly moved in favour of the plaintiff.

 

The company has already adjusted its clothing policy: it has allowed headscarves, but black is still prohibited. 

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