Once again, Muslim women are reportedly set to sue the clothing giant, Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F), in claims that they were discriminated against. The question should be why would Muslim women want to work in a place like A&F, considering the highly sexual image it projects in its clothing ads and commercials. Methinks the motive is to do just what they are doing here, litigation jihad. But why A&F continues to hire them is still a mystery.
The Blaze – The first woman, Samantha Elauf, says that she was not hired by a Tulsa, Oklahoma store because she was wearing a hijab (Islamic headscarf). The other woman, who has not yet been publicly named, claims that a San Mateo, California branch fired her for refusing to remove her religious headscarf.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, responsible for protecting Americans in the workplace, is bringing a lawsuit against A&F on behalf of Elauf (the commission is also examining the second case). The trial for the case is set to begin on July 18. According to NewsOK:
The case, filed Sept. 16, 2009, in federal court in Tulsa, accuses Abercrombie & Fitch of refusing to hire Samantha Elauf, then 17, because her hijab, or head scarf, violates the company’s “Look Policy.” Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects workers from discrimination based upon religion in hiring and in the terms and conditions of their employment.
The second case, involving the woman who claims she was fired for not removing her headscarf, will likely be filed sometime today by the Bay Area Council for American-Islamic Relations and The Legal Aid Society. In this instance, too, the company’s “look policy” was at the root cause of the allegations. Mail Online has more:
The company has become well-known for its controversial ‘look policy’, which provides strict guidelines governing how employees dress. It stipulates that staff must represent ‘a natural classic American style’ and instructs them on everything from how to wear their hair (clean and natural) to how long they should wear their nails (a quarter of an inch past the end of the finger).
CAIR – The plaintiff, Hani Khan, is represented by the San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SFBA) and the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center (LAS-ELC). The suit was filed in conjunction with a lawsuit filed by the San Francisco District Office of the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), on the same charges.
Khan was fired from her job at a Hollister Co. store at the Hillsdale Mall location, after working there for four months in 2009-2010. When she was initially hired in October 2009, she was told her hijab would not be in conflict with the company’s “look policy” so long as she wore it in company colors. Despite complying with this request, in February 2010 a District Manager and Corporate Human Resources Manager asked if she could remove her hijab while working. Khan was suspended and then terminated when she refused to comply with the request, and asserted her right to religious accommodation.
“When I was asked to remove my scarf after being hired with it on, I was demoralized and felt unwanted,” said Khan. “Growing up in this country where the Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of religion, I have felt let down.”
Following her termination, Khan filed a complaint with the EEOC. In September 2010, the EEOC issued a determination that Khan was wrongfully terminated. Attempts to conciliate between the parties failed in January 2011.
“When we first received Ms. Khan’s complaint, it was the explicitness of Abercrombie & Fitch’s discriminatory demands which concerned us. They were both egregious and illegal,” said Zahra Billoo, Executive Director of CAIR-SFBA. “For an employer to, point-blank, require an employee to relinquish their religious practice is a violation of our cherished civil rights laws.”
“Abercrombie & Fitch cannot hide behind a ‘Look Policy’ to justify violating Ms. Khan’s civil rights. Their refusal to accommodate her wearing her hijab is not only unlawful, but un-American,” said Araceli Martinez-Olguin, an LAS-ELC Staff Attorney.
Khan’s lawsuit, which names Hollister Co. and its parent company Abercrombie & Fitch, seeks among other remedies an order to bring the defendants into compliance with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. The requested order would bar Abercrombie & Fitch from discriminating against current or potential employees for refusing to remove their religiously mandated headscarves.
The lawsuit states: “Defendants’ conduct as herein alleged violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1), which makes unlawful discrimination against employees on the basis of religion. The term ‘religion’ includes ‘all aspects of religious observance and practice, as well as belief.'”
Lawsuit from March 2010