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Landmark Supreme Court Ruling in Abercrombie Hijab Case

Samantha Elauf (right) stands with her mother, Majda, in February outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.

Samantha Elauf (right) stands with her mother, Majda, in February outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.


The Supreme Court has ruled 8-1 in favor of a young Muslim woman who was denied a job at Abercrombie & Fitch because she wore a headscarf.

Samantha Elauf had applied for the sales job in Tulsa, Okla., in 2008 and was recommended for hire by an interviewer. But Abercrombie has a “look policy” that bars the wearing of caps by its salespeople.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission took up the case, and the U.S. District Court ruled in favor of Elauf, awarding her $20,000 in damages. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision, concluding that an employer cannot be held liable under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act for failing to accommodate a religious practice until the applicant provides the employer with actual knowledge of his need for an accommodation.

Here is how NPR’s Nina Totenberg explained the case when it was argued last February:

“Abercrombie defends its action, citing its so-called look policy, which bans caps and black clothing. Elauf’s dress for the interview — a T-shirt and jeans — fit well with that policy, which is described as ‘classic East Coast collegiate style of clothing.’ But her headscarf did not fit at all. The policy does not allow caps, terming them ‘too informal for the image we project.’

“Abercrombie maintains that if Elauf wanted a religious exception allowing her to wear her headscarf, it was up to her to make the case at the time of her interview. Elauf responds that she didn’t even know about the look policy, and that deliberately downgrading an otherwise highly rated applicant because of a religious practice violates the federal law banning religious discrimination in employment.”

The high court’s opinion states that:

“Religious practice is one of the protected characteristics that cannot be accorded disparate treatment and must be accommodated.”

Read the entire article…

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  • Jekyll

    As if any other man, half drunk, with a naked whore dancing on him would have reacted any different

  • Tanveer Wan Khanobi

    Was it Majid Nawaz by any chance? ZING!

  • Jekyll

    A metaphor

  • AJ


  • AJ

    I thought Jekyll was being sarcastic. You do get that, right?

  • AJ

    Uh….hmm who is Rosanne? The one from the show?

  • George Carty

    What was a Muslim guy doing IN Hooters in the first place?!

  • Jekyll

    Was it in the late 80’s or early 90’s? Was Rosanne your waitress?

  • AJ

    I agree with you. I am the type that doesn’t want to intrude into places that don’t want my type. That’s why I continue to place volunteer work in a mosque on my resume. I guess, in principle, I am facilitating discrimination but then again I am the type who thinks that legalities is not the process that will stop discrimination since people will find a way around it. I am sure now A&F will still not hire hijabis but will create a good enough reason (some dirt-digging on the applicant) before denying them the job.
    I do think that Elauf won something symbolic for Hijabis.

  • AJ

    Once when I and my husband were young and new in America, we visited a Hooters with our toddler in tow. Now, I giggle over our mind process wondering why the waitresses were dressed the way they were.

  • AJ

    It’s the latest plastic surgery curse to have hit the celebrities – Joker Smile – some sort of a face lift, cheek implants and smile muscles alternation that makes them permanently look like the Jack Nicholson character from Batman. Meg Ryan, Melanie Griffith, Mickey Rourke, Catherine Zeta Jones, etc. to name a few. Aging gracefully without plastic surgery making you look like a monster is a good thing.

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