Abercrombie & Fitch Refused To Hire Muslim Woman

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  1. profile image0
    Stevennix2001posted 9 years ago

    According to Young Turks, Abercrombie and Fitch got into a serious legal battle for NOT hiring a woman that wanted to wear her hijab if she was hired.  She claimed that it's part of her religion, and how it represents modesty.   Needless to say, they didn't hire her because the hijab violates their dress code policy.  However, she took this matter up in the courts over it.  The initial ruling was in her favor, which Abercrombie and Fitch fought and eventually got the ruling overturned.  However, this issue got pressed even further up to the Supreme Court.  What are your thoughts on this? 

    Do you think Abercrombie and Fitch had the right not to hire her because her choice in appearance would've violated their dress code?  Or do you think they should've hired her anyway?  What are your thoughts?

    By the way if you want to know more about this topic, then please click on the link below:


    1. rhamson profile image72
      rhamsonposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      Off the top of my head no. They should not be forced to hire her if they are a private company. If they are an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE) she may have a good case.

      1. jacharless profile image73
        jacharlessposted 9 years agoin reply to this

        Good point.
        So many do not understand that EOE is optional to Privately held entities, and many other policies as well, at least here in the States. But public companies must comply with EOE laws.

        1. wilderness profile image94
          wildernessposted 9 years agoin reply to this

          EOE does not deny the rights of the employer to require "correct" dress, ranging from constumes (Santa or elves, Disney costumes, etc.) or even acceptable office dress.

          1. jacharless profile image73
            jacharlessposted 9 years agoin reply to this


            Funny thing, I was in hospitality for 20-odd years, even owned my own place. One of the best things was the right to "refuse service to anyone". On the flip side the right to "hire whom I choose" to meet the requirements of the business.

            I also remember helping a good friend open a Glatt Kosher place in Brooklyn (I know too cliche, lol) and how difficult it was for me, as a chef, to comply with the kashrut and how the mashgiach used to drive me up a wall over certain foods and procedures for handling items. But, it was his place, his rules. If it weren't for his stunningly sweet wife, I would have sacrificed that Russian Hebrew. Petrov, if you read this I still love you bro. lol.

            Imagine such "laws" where a person comes in and says, "I'm practice [this] religion, so you have to make this type of food for me or else I'm sueing!"  Every restaurant in NY would go out of business. And food establishments in NY make up 40% of the cities sales tax, corporate tax revenue -not to mention millions of employee salaries.

            1. wilderness profile image94
              wildernessposted 9 years agoin reply to this

              I would be more concerned with the requirement for a corner somewhere to sacrifice the chickens, goats or other animals.  Space is at a premium in most stores/businesses and such space simply isn't available.  Plus, the stench would likely drive away customers, requiring both high volume air removal and a very good (and understanding!) cleaning service.

          2. Credence2 profile image79
            Credence2posted 9 years agoin reply to this

            I tend to lean on your side of this prickly issue, Wilderness. There was the case of a Muslim woman who would not agree to remove her facial covering for a driver's license photo. It was not discrimination to be subject to  a dress code, When the employer can support the need (safety, image) without it appearing that it being applied arbitrarily, I am sure that it can pass muster. I remember the case with Disney.

            1. wilderness profile image94
              wildernessposted 9 years agoin reply to this

              The driver's license I remember, but a Disney case?  Never heard of it - just mentioning it for the employees hired to wear costumes and please the kids.

    2. Quilligrapher profile image74
      Quilligrapherposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      Greetings, Steven.

      I am having trouble understanding why you started this thread by misrepresenting the facts of this case. Perhaps, you should have done some independent research instead of letting the Young Turks do your thinking for you.

      1. The interviewer established that the applicant was highly qualified and recommended her for the job in question.
      2. The applicant NEVER said that she wanted to wear a hijab if she was hired. The subject never came up in the job interview seven years ago.
      3. The young woman NEVER claimed in the job interview that it was part of her religion or that it represents modesty. Again, the subject did not come up during the job interview.
      4. This case is NOT about Abercrombie and Fitch having the right not to hire her because her choice of attire might violated their dress code!

      The issue before the Supreme Court is whether Abercrombie & Fitch violated federal law banning religious discrimination by rejecting a highly rated job applicant because she wore a Muslim headscarf in the interview. In fact, Ms. Elauf also wore a T-shirt and jeans that were consistent with the company’s “Look Policy,” which calls for a "classic East Coast collegiate style of clothing."

      The interviewer recommended that the women be hired but mentioned to her superior that Ms. Elauf wore a headscarf. The decision later came down that her interview score should be lowered and she should not be hired.

      The company has now had to defend in court its decision to deny employment to a qualified person simply because it assumed the scarf was a religious garment and further, that it would be in conflict with company policy. Of course, no one asked the applicant if she was a Muslim. Neither did they ask her if she would insist on wearing a headscarf as a religious statement after she was hired. No one advised the applicant about the company’s dress code and no one asked if she would have a problem with that policy if hired. A possible conflict with the dress code was never even discussed! It appears that the company assumed she was a devout Muslim, assumed if hired she would insist on covering her head and, therefore, discriminated against her for assumed religious reasons alone. {1}

      Under existing law, employers have an obligation to accommodate people with particular religious practices or beliefs whenever it is practical and possible to do so. This means that companies must find ways to allow workers to wear a crucifix, a yarmulke, a turban or a hijab.

      I thank you, Steven, for another timely and controversial thread.
      {1} http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/201 … ation-case

      1. HollieT profile image80
        HollieTposted 9 years agoin reply to this


  2. Mitch Alan profile image79
    Mitch Alanposted 9 years ago

    A private company should decide who it hires and no one else. If a company decides to only hire bald headed, one legged Asian midgets, then it should be allowed to do so.

    1. bBerean profile image61
      bBereanposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      Is Irene's Wig Modeling Agency under fire again?

  3. psycheskinner profile image83
    psycheskinnerposted 9 years ago

    Private companies are covered by the law that prevents them from discriminating purely on the basis for race, religion, and gender (amongst other "protected categories").

    I fully agree with this law. Abercrombie has a long record of discrimination against employees for all sorts of reason. This might be the case that gets their ass prosecuted for it.

    If someone refused to hire me for a job I was best qualified for because I was an atheist, I would not hesitate to pursue it through the courts.

    1. Mitch Alan profile image79
      Mitch Alanposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      Those laws SHOULD only pertain to public issues like voting, receiving protection from police and fire etc, Rights covered under the Bill of Rights etc...They should not dictate what a private company does or does not do. A company or organization should hire, fire and serve who they choose. While I personally find ethnic based practices morally reprehensible, I do believe in freedom and liberty. 
      If someone refuses to hire the best candidate because of personal reasons, of any kind, then that should be their right. It is their business, their capital, their investment. If they want to make choices that are counter productive to a growing business, then they should b e allowed to do so and the market will take care of the rest.

      1. Credence2 profile image79
        Credence2posted 9 years agoin reply to this

        If you are operating in the commercial marketplace as a public accommodation you cannot deny service or discriminate( federal law 1964?) ,the situation you speak of applies to you and your home only. But, I suppose these privately owned companies can hire who they choose, how else do you keep control of the company in the family? It may be reprehensible but it is their right. Otherwise, Mitch you are advocating a blast to the past, the 1950's?

    2. GA Anderson profile image88
      GA Andersonposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      It sounds like she was not discriminated against due to her religious beliefs, but for her unwillingness to abide by a company dress code. If that is the real issue - do you still feel they wronged her and should get their ass prosecuted?

      If a company refused to hire you when you were obviously the most technically qualified, but insisted on keeping a rooster on your shoulder - would you still take them to court?


  4. psycheskinner profile image83
    psycheskinnerposted 9 years ago

    I disagree vehemently. Without these laws people would still have whites only lunch counters.

    1. Mitch Alan profile image79
      Mitch Alanposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      So, you are against the United Negro College? I'm not. Are you against an all women's college or fitness center? I'm not. Do you believe that people should be forced to hire someone strictly based on a quota? I don't.
      These aren't rhetorical questions, I'm actually interested in your answers. I wrote a Hub on the topic and am always looking for other views.

      1. psycheskinner profile image83
        psycheskinnerposted 9 years agoin reply to this

        I am against discriminatory hiring practices. I think that is clear enough.  I am also against discriminatory retail service. That is what we were talking about here.  If you want to change the subject, maybe start a new thread.

        If someone in my neighborhood refused to serve or hire people based on bigotry I would be outside with a placard by the end of the day, and support their prosecution under the federal laws that apply.

        1. profile image0
          HowardBThinameposted 9 years agoin reply to this

          That Muslim woman would not be hired by Hooters either, even if she was an amazing waitress.

          If they can't do the dress code - they have no right applying in the first place.

          I'm surprised the first court ruled in her favor to begin with. Why would someone who is so "into" modesty want to work at A & F where the clothing is anything but modest?  Sounds like she had an agenda from the get-go.

      2. Credence2 profile image79
        Credence2posted 9 years agoin reply to this

        Great, I will check out your hub and provide an opinion

    2. profile image59
      retief2000posted 9 years agoin reply to this

      Wrong, whites only lunch counters were not as common as you may believe. I absolutely believe a business should sell or not sell to whom ever they choose, so I can open a business right next door and sell to everyone. it is when the surrounding community becomes violent and attacks the right of a business to do as it chooses with its resources that freedom is challenged.

      Whites only lunch counters only worked in communities where that restriction was acceptable and enforced by the surrounding community.

      A & F believe a sales clerk who conceals her appearance may undermine sales - remember retail is about money - because it is about appearances. Would A&F be free to not hire someone who had an obscenity tattooed across his face?

      1. Credence2 profile image79
        Credence2posted 9 years agoin reply to this

        well, Retief, you have a right to your beliefs, but thank our lucky stars that the law differs in attitude and approach.

        The Federal Civil Rights Act guarantees all people the right to full and equal enjoyment to the goods services , privileges, facilities and advantages and accommodation of any place of public accomadation without discrimation or segregation based upon race, color, religion on national Origin, that would probably include sexual preference as well.

        That is the law and I like it, wouldn't want to have to be sent all over town to find a hospital because they all accept white patients only. Check out Charles Drew or Bessie Smith.

        when you cease to be a public accommodation THeN you may accommodate and serve anyone you want.

        if there is a reason To deny service it better not arbitrary and must be related to the need to properly conduct ones business

        1. profile image59
          retief2000posted 9 years agoin reply to this

          So, after decades of the great liberal leap forward we are still mired in race hatred? How sad that you see your countrymen this way. I believe most Americans do not require the heavy hand of the law to compel them to act decently. I also believe that no business could have survived then or now by  refusing the business of Blacks, without the support of the general community or the local government. Lunch counters can only be segregated if no other lunch counter can be desegregated.

          If a store opens that denies trade to Black customers, I open one right next door that accepts all customers. Which one would survive? I believe my store not only survives, but prospers, unless the local authorities or the overall community is hostile to my business. Do you really think that America is actually hostile to a business that serves all customers? If you don't than why do we need the government to force everyone to behave the same?

          1. Credence2 profile image79
            Credence2posted 9 years agoin reply to this

            Sorry, retief, it is not that I don't trust you, but I don't trust you.

            Every gain in the civil rights struggle has come at great cost in blood and treasure. If it were not for the half-Nelson hold put on the stubborn nature of institutional racism  and that "changing our way of life" stuff by the courts, you can believe me that good will  and progress you speak of would not have been forthcoming. so it took a bit of prodding to get the status quo to change, not the kindness of so many people of good will. Interesting to note that the changes did not come from the statehouse executive nor its legislative bodies, but had to be imposed from without by the federal courts. The law is there to keep everybody honest In case good intentions are in short supply. So why do we need speed limits?

            In your example, seeing how groups separate themselves in housing patterns schools and other areas of interaction, the white only business paradyme  may well have an advantage over you.

          2. Quilligrapher profile image74
            Quilligrapherposted 9 years agoin reply to this

            Hello, Retief. I’m back again with a few alternate viewpoints. smile

            Are we talking history here or shall we limit the discussion to just what you believe? The historical record proves the theory is unreliable. What you say you believe did not happened in the real world. 

            “I believe most Americans do not require the heavy hand of the law to compel them to act decently.”

            The Emancipation Proclamation was issued because Americans were threatening to destroy the country rather than to act decently!

            The Civil Rights Act was enacted because some Americans were still unwilling to act like decent human beings several decades after Reconstruction. Both laws were not written to compel “decent” Americans. They were passed because segments of our society had the economic and judicial power to marginalize, threaten and abuse other Americans.

            One hundred forty-five people perished in less than thirty minutes in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911. {1}This is another real life example to demonstrate that business enterprises can not be relied on to act in the best interests of their own employees much less for the benefit of society as a whole. Businesses will always favor their own self-interests unless society compels them to consider society’s collective interests too.

            Did tobacco companies stop production when they learned smoking was a cause of cancer? (I will leave it to you to research this one.)

            It would have been admirable to see more social reforms without the need for laws, but what you claim should have happened, actually, did not happen. Hence, society did not and does not behave the way the textbook theories say it will.

            “I also believe that no business could have survived then or now by  refusing the business of Blacks.”

            First, let us get our facts straight. Businesses did not refuse to take the Black man’s money. Oh no! Non-whites were encouraged to buy from white storeowners, but they could not eat at the store's "white-only" lunch counter or restaurant. Only white folk were allowed to try on clothes before buying them. Blacks, on the other hand, were not allowed to return purchases that did not fit. White business owners took the Black man’s money all right. They may have been bigots but they were not stupid! {2}

            Introducing free market economics in a discussion about discrimination is simply an invalid straw man. Furthermore, I do not understand why, in some minds, local support is supposed to justify the injustice. Companies established to accommodate the public’s needs must accommodate all members of the public according to the law.   
            {1} http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/f … count.html
            {2} http://www.crmvet.org/tim/timhis60.htm

      2. Quilligrapher profile image74
        Quilligrapherposted 9 years agoin reply to this

        Hi there, Retief. How have you been doing? Mind if I disagree with a few minor points?

        Any person with a minimal exposure to Jim Crow knows that “whites only” lunch counters were quite common in nearly all segregated communities throughout the South.

        Furthermore, if you decide to research segregated lunch counters found in drug and department stores in the South, be sure to include those located in bus terminals and in many other public buildings. Also, tally the number of public buses, theaters, inns, hotels, motels, restaurants, cafeterias, soda fountains, motion picture houses, theaters, concert halls, sports arenas, stadiums, schools and other public establishments with designated entrances, separate seating sections, and alternate accommodations for non-whites. (Whew! big_smile )

        This enlighten statement is trying to minimize the broad impact and the insidious injustice of discrimination in this country:  “Whites only lunch counters only worked in communities where that restriction was acceptable and enforced by the surrounding community.”

        I guess deep seated discrimination in thousands of southern communities is not unjust by Libertarian standards so long as it is “acceptable and enforced by the surrounding community.” From this, I surmise, making some folks display yellow stars on their clothing is also not unjust by Libertarian standards so long as it is “acceptable and enforced by the surrounding community.”

        Another indication that there is much more to be learn about discrimination.

        “I absolutely believe a business should sell or not sell to whom ever they choose, so I can open a business right next door and sell to everyone.”

        Really? In most southern communities, you, as white establishment owner, could be arrested and held liable for serving Blacks. So much for your selling to everyone! White business owners were not free to follow their personal choices, a fact you seem to ignore.

        Local law mandated discrimination!

        “Birmingham Public Accomodation Segregation Laws, SECTION 369.
        It shall be unlawful to conduct a restaurant or other place of the serving of food in the city at which white and colored people are served in the same room, unless such white and colored persons are effectually separated by a solid partition extending from the floor upward to a distance of seven feet or higher, and unless a separate entrance from the street is provided for each compartment.”

        Some believe capital investment entitles a business to enforce unjust and discriminatory policy. Well, maybe it does in a private club or co-op for members only that is not open to the public. However, when goods and services are offered to the public, the ethics and morality embedded in our civil rights laws prescribe that ALL members of the public be served without discrimination.

        Finally, I have one other point to make regarding this statement: “I absolutely believe a business should sell or not sell to whom ever they choose.”

        I have a deep respect for your opinions, Retief, including those with which I disagree. I hope you know this. I would like to share one thought regarding freedom. When one’s political ideology results in injustice, the ideology must yield.   

        I hope you had a wonderful weekend and get to enjoy the week to come. Thank you again for sharing.
        {1} http://www.crmvet.org/info/seglaws.htm

        1. wilderness profile image94
          wildernessposted 9 years agoin reply to this

          Such racism was indeed common, and far more recent than most people think.

          In 1974 I moved to a small town in a poor county in rural Virginia to take a job in a factory.  Built in 1972, the building was just remodeled to do away with the segregated bathrooms it had.  I was told that if I visited the local movie theater, NOT to sit in the balcony: I would undoubtedly come down the hard way, over the railing.  Whites were limited to the lower level and blacks to the upper.  That if I wanted a drink, go to THIS bar and not THAT one, or I would grow a knife in my back; one was for whites and one for blacks. 

          A tremendous shock and quite baffling to a young man just out of college, and from a racism-free home and neighborhood in a small Oregon town.  Such things went out by the turn of the century, after all!

  5. wilderness profile image94
    wildernessposted 9 years ago

    Freedom of religion is not an automatic "bye" to employee standards or requirements, and neither is EOE.  Male/female/child actors/actresses must fit the role.  A Santa without his suit is worthless, as is other costume necessary roles.  An office secretary dressed in a bikini would be fired in a heartbeat. 

    A company most certainly does have the right, legal or otherwise, to dictate the clothing their employees wear while on the job.  Employees, and especially employees dealing with the public, are a part of a companies image and their dress must fit that image.  If religious beliefs make that impossible, find another job and don't expect a company to change their marketing strategy to fit your religion.

    1. Mitch Alan profile image79
      Mitch Alanposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      Well stated...

  6. jacharless profile image73
    jacharlessposted 9 years ago

    Am with Mitch.
    I own two start-up companies and semi-own another. All three are privately owned companies. Due to the nature of our products and branding, require a specific look-feel for each entity. While we have no specific disclosure for religious garments, are obligated to enforce our policy for company "uniform". Every company, unless it is a religious institution, is and should be, free of religious requirements, with the option -not obligation- to recognize religious holidays, meals, prayer-times, etc. But legally forcing companies to comply with religious practices is wrong. Business is business -unless of course a g/God is your business, your brand. Most definitely A&F is in their legal right to enforce non-religious policy / neutral workplace, as well as their brand requirements for employees.

    1. Mitch Alan profile image79
      Mitch Alanposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      Freedom and liberty...well stated...

  7. profile image0
    Stevennix2001posted 9 years ago

    I think you all bring up valid points, and I think what some people fail to understand is that most employers do judge you based on your appearance.  Now, that doesn't necessarily mean they'll judge you based on the color of your skin or anything like that; although some racist bigots might.  However, if I were to show up to a bank for a job interview, while wearing a pair boxers and a t shirt saying, "F**k the man" or whatever, then chances are I wouldn't get hired right?

    As jacharless said before, most employers do reserve the right to have a dress codes for their employees.  It's just the way that it is.  And as Cenk said in the video if there's an Abercrombie and Fitch where she lives, then chances are there's probably other clothing stores in that area, where she could've applied for that would probably be more open to letting her wear the hijab.

  8. Kathleen Cochran profile image76
    Kathleen Cochranposted 9 years ago

    If Hobby Lobby can decide what birth control methods it will or will not allow its employee health insurance to fund because of their religious beliefs, then all bets are off, and you can dictate any terms you want for your employees.  Thank you Supreme Court for rolling civil rights back 40 years.  At least these women are being told when they apply for work what the requirements are and are not getting sucker punched after they've already started to work for the company.


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