After a seven year fight, the highest court in the land ruled yesterday that clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch was wrong in denying a job to a 17-year-old who wore a head scarf to interview and was not hired because her hijab violated company dress policy.
This is not the first time the now struggling retail chain has come under fire for only hiring what it deems appropriate looking people – presumably those who are skinny, “collegiate,” and most likely white.
SEE ALSO: Abercrombie & Fitch Hates Fat People
In an 8-1 decision in the important religious rights case, the court backed Samantha Elauf, who had been rejected under Abercrombie’s sales staff “look policy” after coming to her job interview wearing the head scarf, or hijab, used by many Muslim women.
The decision marked a victory for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency that sued the company on Elauf’s behalf after she was turned down in 2008 at an Abercrombie Kids store in Tulsa.
“Observance of my faith should not have prevented me from getting a job. I am glad that I stood up for my rights, and happy that the EEOC was there for me and took my complaint to the courts,” Elauf said in a statement issued by the EEOC.
In a game of legal ping-pong, Elauf initially won a $20,000 judgment against Abercrombie before a federal district court. That was thrown out, with the court ruling in favor of Abercrombie. The most recent Supreme Court decision comes in favor of the now 24-year-old Oklahoma resident with the majority of the court saying that the company had to provide for a “religious accommodation.”
Unfortunately, the sole dissenter was ole Clarence Thomas, an African American man (we’ll leave that right there.)
Abercrombie said that in April it replaced that policy with “a new dress code that allows associates to be more individualistic” while also changing hiring practices so “attractiveness” is no longer a factor, reports Reuters.
It’s not necessarily over, however, as the case now returns to a lower court, with Abercrombie getting the chance to argue that being forced to provide an accommodation would impose undue hardship on it.
In a court papers filed in the case, Muslim groups report that women wearing head scarves are often discriminated against. Just recently, Twitter was abuzz calling for the boycott of United Airlines, after 31-year-old Tahera Ahmad said that she was verbally threatened and discriminated against because the stewardess on her flight would not give her a full can of Diet Coke, saying it “could be used as a weapon.” Ahmad wore her hijab on the flight.