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Abercrombie & Fitch & Employment Discrimination

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By Neetal Parekh on September 22, 2009 12:50 PM

Abercrombie & Fitch is back in the spotlight in an employment discrimination matter.  This time, a case has been brought by a Muslim teenager who wears a head scarf known as a hijab.  She claims that she was denied a job at the Abercrombie & Fitch retail location in Tulsa, Oklahoma in June 2008 for practicing her religious belief by wearing the scarf.  Samantha Elauf filed the case with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in U.S. District Court in Tulsa last week.

The EEOC and Elauf allege violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits workplace discrimination based on religious belief or practice.   According to the EEOC, the formal lawsuit was filed after settlement talks with Abercrombie & Fitch proved unsuccessful.

The clothing retailer defended its actions stating that the company has a "strong equal employment policy" and that it accommodates "religious beliefs and practices where possible."  The company hires and promotes on a discretionary basis according to the company's controversial "look policy".

And it's not the first time Abercrombie & Fitch has been in the hot seat for employment discrimination, in 2004 the retailer settled a lawsuit filed by the EEOC to the tune of $50 million.  In that Title VII civil rights case, the company was accused for racial discrimination in hiring and workplace promotion -- the suit claimed preferential treatment was given to Caucasians over minority applicants and employees.

It may be time for the mega-retailer itself to re-examine what the Abercrombie & Fitch " look" is all about, or it may well be back to court.

 

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