The popular clothing store Abercrombie & Fitch, often in hot water
for its advertising campaigns, now finds itself facing legal troubles.
A Muslim teenager was turned away for employment by the retailer after
wearing a religious headscarf to a job interview. Now, a federal district
court in California has determined that the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (EEOC) can proceed with religious discrimination claims against
Title VII prohibits “religious discrimination.” As with other
anti-discrimination provisions of Title VII – such as sex discrimination
and race discrimination – your employer may not take an adverse
action against you based on your religious beliefs. This means a potential
employer can’t deny you a job because of your religious beliefs
or discipline or fire you because of your faith.
If you have questions about religious discrimination or believe that you
may have been discriminated against because of your religion, it’s
a good idea to consult with a top
Atlanta discrimination lawyer right away.
In the recent religious discrimination case, EEOC v. Abercrombie &
Fitch Stores, Inc., Halla Banafa applied for a job at two different Milpitas,
California Abercrombie stores, but was denied a position. The people who
were hired were non-Muslim and had lower scores on their job applications.
Abercrombie claim that it failed to hire Banafa because she had “limited
availability.” However Banafa argued that this reason was really
“pretext” [an excuse] for not hiring her. She alleged that
the real reason she wasn’t hired was religious bias.
The court determined that whether the decision not to hire Ms. Banafa was
based on religious bias should be left to a jury to decide. It listed
several factors that could support improper bias. For example, the EEOC
alleged that Abercrombie did not hire Banafa because it determined that
her hijab, or religious headscarf, was inconsistent with the “Abercrombie
look.” Under the company’s “look policy,” employees
are required to wear clothes similar to those sold in Abercrombie stores.
Also, the excuses given by the store for not hiring Ms. Banafa changed
over time. At first, the manager said she wasn’t hired because she
wasn’t the best-qualified applicant. Later she said she was not
sufficiently outgoing, engaging, or confident during her interview. After
the lawsuit was filed, the manager said it was her limited availability.
Abercrombie also tried to assert that requiring its employees to look a
certain way (i.e. East coast preppy) is commercial speech so traditional
“reasonable accommodation” arguments aren’t applicable.
The court rejected this statement, noting that “[t]he appropriateness
of requiring an accommodation to the Look Policy in this case remains
a question of employment law … Abercrombie cannot achieve an end-run
around Title VII.”
For more information about religious discrimination or to talk to someone
about employment discrimination, please contact the knowledgeable
Georgia employment discrimination lawyers at The Buckley Law Firm, LLC for an immediate consultation.