WASHINGTON (AP) – The US Supreme Court is considering the employment discrimination claim of a Muslim woman who was turned down for a job by clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch after she showed up at her job interview wearing a black headscarf that conflicted with the company’s dress code.
The case being argued Wednesday explores when an employer must take steps to accommodate the religious beliefs of a worker or job applicant. Central to the case is that applicant Samantha Elauf never explicitly voiced her religious views or her need to wear a headscarf on the job, although the assistant store manager who interviewed her correctly assumed Elauf was a Muslim who dressed as she did for religious reasons. Abercrombie & Fitch has since changed its policy on headscarves and has settled similar lawsuits elsewhere. But it has continued to fight Elauf’s claim at the Supreme Court.
Elauf was 17 when she interviewed for a “model” position, as the company calls its sales staff, at an Abercrombie Kids store in a shopping mall in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 2008.
She impressed the assistant store manager with whom she met. But her application faltered over her headscarf, or hijab, because it conflicted with the company’s Look Policy, a code derived from Abercrombie’s focus on what it calls East Coast collegiate or preppy style.
At the time of the interview, the policy required employees to dress in a way that is consistent with the clothing Abercrombie sells, and it prohibited wearing headscarves or anything in black.