EEOC wins religious discrimination case against Abercrombie, says Supreme Court

EEOC vs SupremesA few months back, we posed the question “What obligations do businesses have when it comes to avoiding religious discrimination?” Well, the Supremes have spoken: in a 8-1 vote, the Supreme Court declared that employers must accommodate prospective employees’ religious affiliations “if the employer at least has an idea that such accommodation is necessary.” Even if the applicant does not specifically request accommodation during the interview. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Abercrombie & Fitch clothing retailer on behalf of Samantha Elauf, a Muslim woman who applied for a job at an Abercrombie store in 2008, when she was 17 years old. Elauf wore a headscarf to the interview, and despite receiving high marks in her interview, Elauf did not receive a job offer because her headscarf did not fit in with the “Look Policy” Abercrombie had for its sales staff/in-store “models.” Elauf did not specify her religious beliefs in the interview, but Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said in the court’s decision that Abercrombie must have “at least suspected” and therefore should have known that a religious accommodation would be required. Abercrombie has settled several other similar lawsuits. It has also revised its policy regarding headscarves, according to the Associated Press. The EEOC’s website states that employers must provide reasonable accommodation for employees’ religious beliefs and practices, including attire and grooming habits, provided it does not cause “undue hardship” on the employer. The Supreme Court’s decision shows that even if an applicants’ religious garb doesn’t fit with the company’s brand, the company may not refuse to hire a qualified applicant. photo credit: Luxuriously Casual via photopin (license)]]>

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