On June 1, 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in its suit against Abercrombie & Fitch alleging religious discrimination under Title VII. The Court held that, to prove disparate treatment, a plaintiff need only to show that the plaintiff’s need for religious accommodation was a motivating factor in the employment decision, not that the employer had actual knowledge of the need for accommodation.
The plaintiff, Samantha Elauf, wore a black hijab (a headscarf traditionally worn by Muslim women for modesty) when she interviewed for a sales position at Abercrombie. Abercrombie did not hire Elauf because, according to Abercrombie, her headscarf violated its “Look Policy” prohibiting sales employees from wearing black clothing or “caps.”
In a commentary on the decision posted on “Hot Topic,” an online publication of the American Bar Association Section of Labor and Employment Law, Lieff Cabraser attorney Anne B. Shaver explained that that Court’s decision “is a common-sense application of Title VII. An employer may not refuse to hire an applicant because of that applicant’s religion, including religious practice.”
Read the full analysis here.