Abercrombie & Fitch Discrimination Case Is Heading to the Supreme Court

The teen retailer is under fire again, in a big way.
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Eliza Brooke
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The teen retailer is under fire again, in a big way.
Rows of A&F jeans. Photo: Michael Buckner/Getty Images

Rows of A&F jeans. Photo: Michael Buckner/Getty Images

Between accusations of racism and size discrimination, Abercrombie & Fitch's track record when it comes to inclusiveness is pretty abysmal. And it would seem that reputation isn't changing any time soon: A discrimination case against the teen retailer first brought to court in 2009 is now heading to the Supreme Court.

The incident under dispute took place in 2008, when a young woman named Samantha Elauf applied for a job at an Abercrombie Kids store in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and was denied the position because the hijab she wore did not fit with the company's "Look Policy." The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission brought the case before a federal district judge, who sided with Elauf. In 2013, however, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled in favor of Abercrombie.

The grounds for that decision? Elauf, who is Muslim, had not asked for religious accommodation when she went into the job interview. According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an employer can not fire or refuse to hire an individual on the basis of his or her religious affiliation.

But now the case has arrived at the Supreme Court, and the question at hand, according to a filing, is "whether an employer can be liable under Title VII for refusing to hire an applicant or discharging an employee based on a 'religious observance and practice' only if the employer has actual knowledge that a religious accommodation was required and the employer's actual knowledge resulted from direct, explicit notice from the applicant or employee." Essentially, the Supreme Court is taking a closer look at the law that got Abercrombie & Fitch off the hook in 2013.

A representative for Abercrombie & Fitch did not immediately respond to request for comment.