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Supreme Court rules for Muslim Abercrombie & Fitch job applicant

| Jun 2, 2015 | Employment Discrimination |

In an update to a case we last discussed in February, a Muslim woman who was denied a job at clothing company Abercrombie & Fitch has prevailed before the U.S. Supreme Court. In an 8-1 ruling, the Court agreed that job applicants need not ask for their right to religious accommodations be honored by a prospective employer for that right to exist, the International Business Times reports.

To recap, the plaintiff in this employment discrimination case was 17 when she applied for a “sales model” job — Abercrombie’s term for sales associates — in 2008. During an interview with an assistant manager, the plaintiff wore a hijab, a headscarf worn by many Muslim women, but did not ask for any religious accommodation as part of her employment.

The assistant manager told the plaintiff she was a good candidate for employment, but management later decided that the hijab violated Abercrombie’s “Look Policy,” the company’s rules for what sales models are allowed to wear while working.

The woman later sued for discrimination, which Abercrombie denied. The company claimed that, because the plaintiff did not request permission to wear a hijab at the store, she was not entitled to religious accommodations as required under the law.

The trial court sided with the plaintiff and awarded her $20,000. But the appeals court reversed the decision, leading to the case reaching the Supreme Court. The Court’s decision held that job applicants need not ask for their right to religious accommodations during the hiring process in order to enjoy protection from religious discrimination.

This ruling could improve how religious beliefs are respected and accommodated in the workplace. However, knowing whether you have been the victim of employment discrimination based on religion or other reason can be difficult. A consultation with an employment law attorney may be helpful.

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