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Retail Clothing Chain Notorious for Bigotry Looses Supreme Court Case Over Discrimination Against Muslim Woman

Abercrombie & Fitch: The company needs to get over itself.
Abercrombie & Fitch: The company needs to get over itself.
By Barbara Leonard
Abercrombie & Fitch must pay after deciding not to hire a teenage Muslim girl because of her headscarf, the Supreme Court ruled Monday.

     Samantha Elauf was 17 in mid-2008 when she applied for a sales job at an Abercrombie Kids store in the Woodland Hills Mall in Tulsa, Okla.
RELATED STORY: Abercrombie & Fitch model tells of 'racism, sexual harassment and discrimination' at store
     Abercrombie calls its sales associates "models," and holds them to a "Look Policy" that involves showcasing the preppy brand. Though the policy prohibits models from wearing black clothing or caps, it offers no definition of the term cap.

     Elauf had worn a traditional veil for Muslim women known as a hijab since she was 13. A friend of Elauf's who already worked at Abercrombie asked an assistant manager at the store whether Elauf could wear her scarf to work if she got the job.
RELATED STORY: Abercrombie & Fitch Supports Racism, Sexism & Size Discrimination  
Noting that a different employee wore a yarmulke, the supervisor said a non-black headscarf would be fine.

     The policy on headscarves never came up when a different assistant manager interviewed Elauf and scored her style as a 6, amounting to a recommendation that the store hire the applicant.

     When that supervisor sought approval for Elauf's hijab, however, a district manager found the headscarf inconsistent with Abercrombie's look policy.
RELATED STORY: Clothing Chain Accused of favoring whites for its sales floor jobs
     Though the woman who conducted Elauf's interview testified otherwise, the district manager later told the court that he did not know he was being asked about a scarf worn for religious reasons.

     The interviewer meanwhile said she received orders to change the score card she had filled out on Elauf, thus ensuring the girl would not be recommended for hire.

     After Abercrombie declined to hire Elauf, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed suit.

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