Abercrombie Loses Religious Headscarf Case At Supreme Court
In a nearly unanimous Supreme Court decision released yesterday, the Supreme Court dealt a blow to clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch for refusing to hire a Muslim job applicant because she wore a hijab to a 2008 job interview.
While Abercrombie won at the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court reversed that opinion and the accompanying notion that “actual knowledge” of a necessary religious accommodation is required to find discrimination. The Court explained, “an applicant need only show that his need for [a religious] accommodation was a motivating factor in the employer’s decision.” Because Abercrombie had a “Look Policy” in place that prohibited black clothing and “caps,” the Court explained that it ran afoul of Title VII‘s prohibition on religious discrimination even without more than an “unsubstantiated suspicion” that religious accommodation would be necessary.
Having clarified the legal test, the Supreme Court remanded the case for further consideration to determine whether in fact Abercrombie discriminated against the plaintiff.
Madia Law represents victims of religious discrimination in the workplace. State and federal law in Minnesota and Wisconsin prohibit employers from choosing not to hire someone based on the person’s religious beliefs (or perceived religious beliefs).
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Joshua Newville is an attorney and mediator based in Minnesota. He litigates employment and civil rights cases, serves as a mediator for civil disputes, and provides employment law advice.