The US high court ruled today in favor of Samantha Elauf, a Muslim woman who was refused a job as a sales associate at an Abercrombie & Fitch store in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2008 because she was wearing a hijab. The company said the headscarf would breach its “look policy.”
The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued the company on behalf of Elauf for violating the federal Civil Rights Act, which prohibits an employer from refusing to hire applicants based on their religion.
Abercrombie argued that Elauf did not request that the company accommodate her hijab, and claimed that the hijab was banned along with any other “headgear,” according to company rules. But in a 8-1 vote, the justices backed Elauf, reversing a lower court ruling.
The company’s emphasis on maintaining its preppy, “collegiate” image and infamous appearance requirements have landed it in trouble before in other lawsuits, one of which resulted in a $40 million payout to minorities and women. Abercrombie has since changed its look policy, allowing for “headgear,” including headscarves.