Supreme Court Rules in Abercrombie and Fitch Anti-Discrimination Case

The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that the popular retailer Abercrombie and Fitch violated anti-discrimination laws when it failed to hire a Muslim woman who wore a headscarf to her interview.  At issue in the case was whether Abercrombie could be responsible for discrimination if the Plaintiff had not specifically asked for an accommodation to wear the headscarf.  There was evidence that Abercrombie considered the possibility the Plaintiff would ask for an accommodation to its dress code for the headscarf in making the decision not to hire the Plaintiff.  Under the circumstances, the Court found a specific request from the Plaintiff was unnecessary.

 

The case is a reminder for employers that the law requires reasonable accommodations of dress codes for religious dress unless the accommodations present an undue hardship.  It also serves as a warning that courts will find employers have committed discrimination where their knowledge is obvious from the circumstances, even if the employee fails to specifically ask for an accommodation.

 

The decision, authored by Justice Scalia, is available here:  http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/14-86_p86b.pdf

Article written by Dawn J. Lanouette, partner at Hinman, Howard & Kattell, LLP.  To contact Mrs. Lanouette please email her at dlanouette@hhk.com or via telephone at (607) 723-5341.

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