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Teen files employment discrimination claim after wearing a hijab

On Behalf of | Oct 6, 2014 | Workplace Discrimination

Many companies look to uphold their branding and expect a certain level of professionalism in the appearance from their employees. During the interview process, Colorado applicants should be have a majority of the decision of their hire based upon how well they answer the questions and fit the look of the company. Unfortunately, some company dress policies may not be considerate of garments worn as part of a someone’s religion, which could rule out a potentially great worker and lead to an employment discrimination issue.

An applicant for Abercrombie and Fitch, a teen clothing retailer, claims that she was denied a chance to work for the company because of her religious attire. The company is known for its image and refers to employees as models because the workers must strictly adhere to the company’s “look policy.” This policy details what type of clothes the workers are to wear as well as acceptable hair styles, accessories and make up.

When the plaintiff  interviewed for the job, she wore her hijab because one of her friends had told her that as long as the hijab wasn’t black, it would not be looked upon negatively. Abercrombie policy states that the employees cannot wear black. The then teenager’s scores were good enough for her to be hired, but allegedly when the assistant manager asked his supervisor about her religious head wear, he was told that it did not follow the look policy and that she could not be hired. It was later disclosed that apparently the supervisor did not know that the hijab was worn for religious purposes.

A file was claimed on the woman’s behalf by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Abercrombie, and she was awarded $20,000 but that decision was later reversed. The EEOC petitioned the Supreme Court to look at the case early next year, but in the meantime, the EEOC filed claims for other Muslim women with similar issues that were not overturned and required the company’s look policy to be altered to accommodate religious attire. Colorado applicants who feel that they were denied employment due to their religion or religious attire may choose to file an employment discrimination claim against the employer. If the claim is successfully navigated, the plaintiff may be awarded monetary relief based upon proof of discrimination.

Source: businessweek.com, “The Supreme Court Will Decide if Abercrombie Is Guilty of Religious Discrimination“, Susan Berfield, Oct. 2, 2014