Friday, October 4, 2013

10th Circuit Overturns Decision in Abercrombie Religious Headscarf Case

Last month I reported on a religious discrimination case filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against retailer Abercrombie & Fitch whereby a Court held the retailer violated Title VII when it terminated a Muslim employee for wearing a head scarf after a district manager visited the store and saw the employee's attire.  In another case involving the same claims with different facts, Abercrombie appealed a federal district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the EEOC and against them and the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit reversed and ruled in favor of Abercrombie.

From the case:

Abercrombie & Fitch ("Abercrombie") appeals from the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and the court's denial of summary judgment in favor of Abercrombie, on the EEOC's claim that Abercrombie failed to provide a reasonable religious accommodation for a prospective employee, Samantha Elauf, in contravention of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. @@ 2000e to 2000e-17. Exercising jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. @ 1291, we reverse the district court's grant of summary judgment to the EEOC. Abercrombie is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law because there is no genuine dispute of material fact that Ms. Elauf never informed Abercrombie prior to its hiring decision that she wore her headscarf or "hijab" for religious reasons and that she needed an accommodation for that practice, due to a conflict between the practice and Abercrombie's clothing policy. Accordingly, we remand the case to the district court with instructions to vacate its judgment and enter judgment in favor of Abercrombie, and for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

The opinion is over 90 pages long and the case is: EEOC vs. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., Case No. 11-5110 (10th Cir. Oct. 1, 2013)

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