SCOTUS rules in favor of Muslim woman in suit against Abercrombie and Fitch - CNNPolitics.com
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Muslim woman who has sued retailer Abercrombie & Fitch when the store failed to hire her because she wore a head scarf in observance of her religion.
The court ruled 8-1 that the company failed to accommodate Samantha Elauf's religious needs when she was not hired on the basis that her hijab violated company dress policy. Justice Clarence Thomas dissented with part of the ruling but concurred with the rest.
Abercrombie & Fitch argued that Elauf couldn't succeed without first showing that the employer had "actual knowledge" of her need for a religious accommodation.A&F didn't really help themselves with a pretty dumb argument for their side, boiling down to "well, how are we supposed to know they are wearing a head scarf for religious reasons?" Maybe I'm not knowledge on recent fashion, but I never recall head scarfs being worn for reasons besides religion or related to religion (e.g. doing a show/play/etc. where a character is a Muslim woman).The controversy began in 2008 when then 17-year-old Samantah Elauf sought a job with the retailer. Prior to the interview, Elauf was nervous she might not be hired because of the black headscarf that she wears for religious reasons. She interviewed with assistant manager Heather Cooke, however, and although she was told that the company's "look policy" meant she shouldn't wear a lot of make up, black clothing or nail polish, her head scarf never came up.
But after the interview Cooke sought approval from her district manager. She said she told the manager that she assumed Elauf was Muslim and figured she wore the head scarf for religious reasons. The manager said Elauf shouldn't be hired because the scarf was inconsistent with the look policy that bans head gear.
I don't really agree with their policy on head gear in the first place, and there is a question of how far does accommodation go for a business which deals with the public. I don't really think a head scarf, at least in A&F's case, is going to do any damage to the image the company is trying to promote though. ro be honest, I'm not sure it'd damage the image of any business (outside of ones that exclusively only cater to a particular religion, but most of those I'd assume are run by a church and thus immune anyways).