Abercrombie & Fitch Co., the nationwide retailer, will no doubt have to revisit its hiring policies following a Supreme Court ruling today that a Muslim job applicant can sue the company after she was rejected for wearing a head scarf, which the company said violated its no-caps rule.
The ruling came courtesy of a decisive 8-to-1 majority, with Justice Antonin Scalia writing the opinion and Justice Clarence Thomas providing the lone dissenting vote.
Samantha Elauf initially brought her case to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) after she was turned down for a sales job at an Abercrombie Kids store in Tulsa, Okla. The EEOC sued Abercrombie on her behalf.
In its ruling today, the Supreme Court overturned a decision by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that had thrown out an earlier judgment in Ms. Elauf’s favor, arguing that she never explicitly asked Abercrombie to accommodate her religious practice and thus there was no discrimination. Justice Scalia, however, countered that federal law requires “favored treatment” for faith-based observances.
Longstanding federal civil rights laws require employers to “reasonably accommodate” workers’ and applicants’ religious practices unless doing so would prove too big a burden for the company.
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