Monday, September 16, 2013

Abercrombie & Fitch Loses Yet Another Religious Garb Case

In July 2011, famous clothing maker Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F) was sued by a Muslim applicant who was not hired after wearing a hijab during her interview.  A jury awarded that woman $20,000.  In late 2009, Umme-Hani Khan, then 19, started working at a Bay Area Hollister store. She wore a head scarf during her interview and regularly on the job but was allegedly fired four months later after a district manager visited the store. The manager and a corporate human resources director said the scarf violated the company dress code, according to the lawsuit.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed suit on behalf of Khan in 2011 and a California district judge ruled last week that the termination violated the portion of Title VII that bars religious discrimination.

A&F maintains that the dress code goes to the “very heart of its business model” and that any deviation from it threatens its bottom line.  However, when it comes to religious garb and Title VII, unless it would be an undue hardship on the employer's operation of its business, an employer must reasonably accommodate an employee's religious beliefs or practices.  Obviously A&F has been unsuccessful in proving this undue hardship.

Damages in Khan's case will be determined later this month in a separate hearing.

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