Hiring policy targets Muslim women

Though discrimination based on religion, race or sex dominates many disputes, one particular court case receiving a significant amount of attention is Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., which was argued before the Supreme Court last week. In 2008, Samantha Elauf, then a 17-year-old Muslim girl, was denied a sales model position at retailer Abercrombie & Fitch because of her hijab, or headscarf. Elauf and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission brought a lawsuit against the retailer, and a lower court sided with Elauf. Since Abercrombie won on appeal, however, the case was taken up by the Supreme Court. Looking at the combination of Abercrombie’s famously employed “Look Policy,” Abercrombie’s legal history, Elauf’s interview and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, one could conclude that Abercrombie & Fitch has denied Elauf a job based on her religious affiliation, a gross act of discrimination.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states that it is illegal to “fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual … because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex or national origin.” The Supreme Court’s decision on this case could force society to rethink the balance between religious rights and employer responsibility. This is not the first time Abercrombie’s actions have landed the company in a headscarf-related lawsuit. In 2008, a woman named Halla Banafa claimed that a manager at Abercrombie’s Milpitas, California, location chose not to hire her because of her headscarf. In a similar case, Umme Hani Khan, who worked at one of the company’s Hollister stores in San Francisco, was fired in 2010 after a district manager ordered Khan to remove her hijab.

Abercrombie’s decision not to hire Elauf could have been because of her lack of qualifications, not her headscarf. Nevertheless, the assistant manager who interviewed Elauf gave her solid marks on the three “competencies” outlined in Abercrombie’s Look Policy required for the job of sales model: “outgoing and promotes diversity,” “sophistication and aspiration,” and “appearance and sense of style.”

Elauf said that at the end of her interview with Abercrombie, the assistant manger told her that they would call her about orientation in a few days. Heather Cooke, the assistant manager who interviewed Elauf, explained that her conversation with her boss started with a discussion about Elauf’s religious headscarf and ended with the decision not to hire her or inform her of the new decision. Abercrombie denies that its decision had to do with Elauf’s religious affiliation, instead contending that her appearance would impact its brand identity. However, it seems as if these decisions are only hurting the brand and labeling Abercrombie as a discriminatory employer. A job applicant’s hiring should be based upon her qualifications and passion rather than her choice of dress, especially dress related to religion.

Some have noted that taking off the headscarf is not a difficult adjustment to make and a decent sacrifice to be made for a job. Undermining the religious value of wearing a headscarf, however, should not be the price to pay for a job that would not impact the customer experience at an Abercrombie store. Because the interviewer and her boss specifically spoke about Elauf’s religious headscarf being the deciding factor of her employment, it is clear that Abercrombie & Fitch has repeated religious discrimination against an employee.

Though some argue that there are bigger problems to deal with and that it is easier to disregard discrimination cases like these altogether, it is still important to treat every discriminatory act, large or small, as an indication that discrimination is an ongoing battle that cannot be ignored.

1 reply
  1. Arafat
    Arafat says:

    As long as the Muslim population remains around 1% of any given country they
    will be regarded as a peace-loving minority and not as a threat to anyone. In
    fact, they may be featured in articles and films, stereotyped for their
    colorful uniqueness:

    United States — Muslim 1.0%

    Australia — Muslim 1.5%

    Canada — Muslim 1.9%

    China — Muslim 1%-2%

    Italy — Muslim 1.5%

    Norway — Muslim 1.8%

    At 2% and 3% they begin to proselytize from other ethnic minorities and
    disaffected groups with major recruiting from the jails and among street gangs:

    Denmark — Muslim 2%

    Germany — Muslim 3.7%

    United Kingdom — Muslim 2.7%

    Spain — Muslim 4%

    Thailand — Muslim 4.6%

    From 5% on they exercise an inordinate influence in proportion to their
    percentage of the population. They will push for the introduction of halal
    (clean by Islamic standards) food, thereby securing food preparation jobs for
    Muslims. They will increase pressure on supermarket chains to feature it on
    their shelves — along with threats for failure to comply.

    France — Muslim 8%

    Philippines — Muslim 5%

    Sweden — Muslim 5%

    Switzerland — Muslim 4.3%

    The Netherlands — Muslim 5.5%

    Trinidad & Tobago — Muslim 5.8%

    At this point, they will work to get the ruling government to allow them to
    rule themselves under Sharia, the Islamic Law. The ultimate goal of Islam is
    not to convert the world but to establish Sharia law over the entire world.

    When Muslims reach 10% of the population, they will increase lawlessness as
    a means of complaint about their conditions (Paris — car burnings, etc.). Any
    non-Muslim action that offends Islam will result in uprisings and threats
    (Amsterdam — Mohammed cartoons).

    Guyana — Muslim 10%

    India — Muslim 13.4%

    Israel — Muslim 16%

    Kenya — Muslim 10%

    Russia — Muslim 10-15%

    After reaching 20% expect hair-trigger rioting, jihad militia formations,
    sporadic killings and church and synagogue burning:

    Ethiopia — Muslim 32.8%

    At 40% you will find widespread massacres, chronic terror attacks and ongoing
    militia warfare:

    Bosnia — Muslim 40%

    Chad — Muslim 53.1%

    Lebanon — Muslim 59.7%

    From 60% you may expect unfettered persecution of non-believers and other
    religions, sporadic ethnic cleansing (genocide), use of Sharia Law as a weapon
    and Jizya, the tax placed on infidels:

    Albania — Muslim 70%

    Malaysia — Muslim 60.4%

    Qatar — Muslim 77.5%

    Sudan — Muslim 70%

    After 80% expect State run ethnic cleansing and genocide:

    Bangladesh — Muslim 83%

    Egypt — Muslim 90%

    Gaza — Muslim 98.7%

    Indonesia — Muslim 86.1%

    Iran — Muslim 98%

    Iraq — Muslim 97%

    Jordan — Muslim 92%

    Morocco — Muslim 98.7%

    Pakistan — Muslim 97%

    Syria — Muslim 90%

    Tajikistan — Muslim 90%

    Turkey — Muslim 99.8%

    United Arab Emirates — Muslim 96%

    100% will usher in the peace of “Dar-es-Salaam” — the Islamic House of Peace
    — there’s supposed to be peace because everybody is a Muslim:

    Afghanistan — Muslim 100%

    Saudi Arabia — Muslim 100%

    Somalia — Muslim 100%

    Yemen — Muslim 99.9%

    Of course, that’s not the case. To satisfy their blood lust, Muslims then
    start killing each other for a variety of reasons.

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