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US Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Muslim Woman Against Abercrombie & Fitch

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SCOTUS rules in favor of Muslim woman in suit against Abercrombie and Fitch

by Ariane De Vogue, CNN, June 1, 2015

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(CNN)The Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Muslim woman who has sued retailer Abercrombie & Fitch when the store failed to hire her because she wore a head scarf in observance of her religion.

The court ruled 8-1 that the company failed to accommodate Samantha Elauf's religious needs when she was not hired on the basis that her hijab violated company dress policy. Justice Clarence Thomas dissented with part of the ruling but concurred with the rest.

Abercrombie & Fitch argued that Elauf couldn't succeed without first showing that the employer had "actual knowledge" of her need for a religious accommodation. But the Court disagreed, and sent the case back down to the lower court for further consideration.

"An applicant need show only that his need for an accommodation was a motivating factor in the employer's decision, not that the employer had knowledge of his need," Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority.

The case was being closely watched by other retailers with so called "look policies" as well as religious liberty groups who believe that an employee shouldn't have to explain their religious justification if the employer already has reason to know it.

"The significance of today's ruling is that an employer cannot put its head in the sand when it has reason to believe that an applicant will need a religious accommodation," said Gregory Lipper of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, who joined a brief in favor of Elauf.

"It means that if an employer thinks a potential employee needs a religious accommodation, than the employer needs to make a reasonable effort to accommodate; it can't reject the applicant and then plead ignorance, " he said.

The controversy began in 2008 when then 17-year-old Samantah Elauf sought a job with the retailer. Prior to the interview, Elauf was nervous she might not be hired because of the black headscarf that she wears for religious reasons. She interviewed with assistant manager Heather Cooke, however, and although she was told that the company's "look policy" meant she shouldn't wear a lot of make up, black clothing or nail polish, her head scarf never came up.

But after the interview Cooke sought approval from her district manager. She said she told the manager that she assumed Elauf was Muslim and figured she wore the head scarf for religious reasons. The manager said Elauf shouldn't be hired because the scarf was inconsistent with the look policy that bans head gear.

A federal agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued on Elauf's behalf. After arguments, P. David Lopez, EEOC General Counsel issued a statement saying," Monday's case is the latest effort to ensure all persons protected by Title VII are not placed in the difficult position of choosing between adherence to one's faith and a job."

In Court lawyers for the government argued that it was not Elauf's obligation to give direct notice that she needed an accommodation.

"Knowledge of the need for an accommodation requires an understanding not simply of an applicant's religious practices but also of company policies," wrote Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. in court papers. "The employer almost uniformly has knowledge of the latter," he said.

But lawyers for Abercrombie countered that over the years applicants have requested accommodations and the company has granted them.

"Here, Elauf never identified her headscarf as religious, nor did Abercrombie have actual knowledge of that fact from any other source," wrote Shay Dvoretzky, a lawyer for the retailer. In Court he argued, "What we want to avoid is a rule that leads employers, in order to avoid liability, to start stereotyping about whether they think, guess or suspect that somebody is doing something for religious regions."

link to article - http://tinyurl.com/q7v22su


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What Supreme Court’s Head Scarf Ruling Means for Employers

by Thomas Black & Caroline Hymowitz, Insurance Journal, June 1, 2015

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SAMANTHA ELAUF

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling that Abercrombie & Fitch Co. can be sued for denying employment to a woman wearing a head scarf will compel companies large and small to brush up on the nuances of bias and do more to accommodate employees’ religious beliefs.

In Monday’s 8-1 decision, the Supreme Court said companies can face discrimination claims even if managers didn’t know for sure that a job applicant had religious reasons for wearing a certain garb or needing time off. Federal law requires employers to accommodate religious needs when feasible.

The ruling underscores the need for businesses to be more attuned to workers’ religious beliefs. With some diversity experts saying millennials are far more likely to confidently wear a hijab or a sari or other non-Western clothing to work than their parents ever did, that means extra training to make sure policies and bosses are in step with the times.

“The policies won’t go out the door, but HR needs to be aware, and they probably already should have been aware, that people have the right to be free from discrimination,” said William Burgess, senior staff attorney for the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington.

Those type of cases may arise more as younger workers take inspiration from the gains on diversity rights for women and for same-sex couples, said Subha Barry, vice president and general manager of Working Mother Media Inc. and a former global head of diversity at Merrill Lynch & Co.

“My niece’s best friend is Muslim and wears a hijab, while her mother perhaps didn’t have the confidence to do that,” Barry said. “There’s been a dramatic generational change.”

Abercrombie declined to hire Samantha Elauf in 2008 at its store in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in part because the scarf she wore to her interview didn’t comply with the company’s dress code.

A federal appeals court said that wasn’t religious discrimination because Elauf didn’t explicitly tell an Abercrombie interviewer she was wearing the scarf for religious reasons. The Supreme Court decision sends the case back to a lower court, without specifying the next steps.

The ruling puts a burden on small businesses that don’t have large human resource and legal departments to deal with the nuances of religion and how to accommodate those practices, said Karen Harned, executive director of the Small Business Legal Center for the National Federation of Independent Business. Most owners are taught not to ask about religious beliefs because that could lead to charges of discrimination.

“The way the standard is now, it’s going to be confusing for small business owners and could lead to more litigation,” said Harned, whose organization filed a friend of court brief supporting Abercrombie & Fitch. “That’s the bottom line.”

The scarf ruling not only supported religious freedom in hiring but also gender equity, said Penny Venetis, executive vice president and legal director of Legal Momentum, the New York-based nonprofit that advocates the legal rights of women.

“Even though this ruling was about religious freedom, it was also against gender discrimination and stereotypical thinking about beauty in hiring decisions,” Venetis said.

The case is reminiscent of lawsuits filed by female flight attendants in the 1970s and 1980s who challenged dress codes imposed on them by airlines that mandated wearing short skirts and revealing clothing — and won in court, she said.

“Dress codes can be a license to discriminate about people” and especially women, Venetis said.

Courts have largely found that appearance can’t be a factor in hiring or firing if it isn’t a key part of one’s job. But that isn’t always the case. An Atlantic County, New Jersey, court in 2013 ruled that cocktail waitresses can be hired and fired based on appearance, especially weight.

Superior Court Judge Nelson Johnson ruled that Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa was within its right to limit the weight gain of its scantily clad cocktail servers, known as “Borgata babes.”

Studies have found that women and men who are considered good looking and who dress neatly and wear traditional career clothing often get preference in hiring, especially for sales and service jobs.

For now the decision will be more likely to affect rank-and-file workers than executives, who rarely use religious garb, according to corporate recruiters.

“I have never seen it in corporate America — ever,” said Pat Cook, chief executive officer of Cook & Co., a boutique search firm in Bronxville, New York that places top-level executives. “Given the speed with which same-sex marriage has been accepted, I bet this issue will win acceptance in a few years.”

The case is Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Abercrombie & Fitch, 14-86.

–With assistance from Greg Stohr in Washington.

Link to article - http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2015/06/01/370170.htm

Edited by zuluweta

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Stossel On SCOTUS Abercrombie Ruling: 'This Is Why People Don't Hire' In US

by Caitlin MacNeal, Talking Points Memo, June 3, 2015

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Fox Business host John Stossel on Tuesday night lamented that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Muslim woman who was not hired at clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch when she wore a headscarf to the job interview.

"This is why people don’t hire in America anymore," Stossel said on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor." "Nobody can understand the laws, and if you hire someone in a protected class, you may be sued if you ever try to fire them. Or if you don’t hire them you may be sued."

"These laws are meant to help the minority group, but they backfire," he continued.

Fox host Bill O'Reilly seemed unfazed by the ruling.

"If I were the Abercrombie guy, I would have hired her with the headscarf," he said. "What difference does it make? I would have started to sell headscarves."

Stossel told O'Reilly, "You ought to get to hire anybody you want, but that’s not what the law said."

Link to article - http://tinyurl.com/nfqdqh6

Edited by zuluweta

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Stossel On SCOTUS Abercrombie Ruling: 'This Is Why People Don't Hire' In US

by Caitlin MacNeal, Talking Points Memo, June 3, 2015

hqdefault.jpg

Fox Business host John Stossel on Tuesday night lamented that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Muslim woman who was not hired at clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch when she wore a headscarf to the job interview.

"This is why people dont hire in America anymore," Stossel said on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor." "Nobody can understand the laws, and if you hire someone in a protected class, you may be sued if you ever try to fire them. Or if you dont hire them you may be sued."

"These laws are meant to help the minority group, but they backfire," he continued.

Fox host Bill O'Reilly seemed unfazed by the ruling.

"If I were the Abercrombie guy, I would have hired her with the headscarf," he said. "What difference does it make? I would have started to sell headscarves."

Stossel told O'Reilly, "You ought to get to hire anybody you want, but thats not what the law said."

Link to article - http://tinyurl.com/nfqdqh6

Who hired Stossel???

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I am a bit confused by what exactly they ruled on.. A&F stated they would have respected her wishes had she stated it was for religious reasons but she never made it clear that it was for religious reasons.. So the ruling was that A&F was supposed to inquire and not wait to be informed?

What if I have a restaurant and I require employees to wear full pirate uniforms including a huge hat? ..


I don't believe it.. Prove it to me and I still won't believe it. -Ford Prefect

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