Discrimination

A Muslim woman, who was denied employment at an Oklahoma branch of Abercrombie & Fitch because she wore a headscarf, has been permitted to move forward with her discrimination lawsuit in U.S. Supreme Court. According to the suit, the woman was refused employment due to the Muslim headscarf she wore -- a headscarf that is required by her religion.

The woman was denied a sales job at an Abercrombie in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 2008, at the age of 17. Later, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) took up the young woman's case and sued Abercrombie under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in federal court.

The question that the court had to decide was whether the woman needed to formally request religious accommodation from Abercrombie in order for her suit to be valid under the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of religion. The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in favor of the woman on Monday, and thereby decided that she did not need to file a formal request for accommodation. This decision has allowed her case to move forward.

Second Discrimination-Related Win for Muslims This Year

This marks the second religious discrimination-related win for a Muslim in the high court this year. Last January, the Supreme Court shot down a policy in Arkansas that banned inmates from growing beards, which the Supreme Court ruled was a violation of one inmate's religious beliefs.

According to Abercrombie, the high court has yet to make a determination on the matter of religious discrimination, and the suit will now continue. In an opinion issued by Justice Antonin Scalia, though, if the young woman is to prevail in her case, she will only need to prove that her requirement for religious accommodation played a role in Abercrombie's decision not to hire her. That would be "a role" rather than a stricter requirement of playing the "primary role" in Abercrombie's decision.

Abercrombie Has Revised Its Dress Code

Abercrombie argues that its decision not to hire the young woman was a neutral application of its "look policy," which had specific dress code requirements at the time and prohibited head coverings. Last April, though, Abercrombie announced that it has changed its "look policy" with a dress code that allows more individual freedom to its staff and it has also eliminated "attractiveness" in job candidates as a factor in hiring.

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