The U.S. Supreme Court
is slated to consider whether clothing firm Abercrombie & Fitch practiced religious discrimination in firing Muslim employee Umme-Hani Khan for wearing her hijab, or religious headscarf, at work. The 19-year-old first started working at the Hollister store at the Hillsdale Shopping Center in San Mateo, Calif., in October 2008. Hollister is an Abercrombie brand targeting teenagers aged 14 through 18.
The original lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and alleged that Khan initially agreed to wear headscarves in Hollister colors, but then was told that the headscarf was a violation of company dress code and that she would be terminated if she did not remove it. She was subsequently fired for her refusal to do so.
In 2011, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzales Rogers found that the clothier was liable for religious discrimination, writing in an order: “It is undisputed that Khan was terminated ‘for non-compliance with the company’s Look Policy.’ Khan’s only violation of the Look Policy was the headscarf.”
At that time, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission General Counsel David Lopez said in a statement: “No one should have to choose between keeping their faith and keeping their job. The court sent a clear message that it was illegal to fire Ms. Khan solely for wearing her hijab. …This is a clear victory for civil rights.”
However, in an October 2013 ruling, the Denver-based U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Khan was under a requirement to request an accommodation. The previous ruling against Abercrombie was overturned.
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