In Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc. the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that Abercrombie acted in violation of Title VII when it refused to hire Samantha Elauf, a practicing Muslim, because she wore a headscarf for religious reasons.
Ms. Elauf had applied for a position with an Abercrombie store in the fall of 2007. During her interview she scored well enough to be hired, but the store’s assistant manager charged with interviewing Ms. Elauf was concerned about the headscarf Ms. Elauf wore. Under Abercrombie’s “Look Policy” for employees “caps” are prohibited. The assistant manager asked the district manager whether she could hire an applicant even if the applicant wore a headscarf. The district manager responded that the Look Policy barred all head coverings, including headscarves worn for religious reason, and directed the assistant manager to reject Ms. Elauf’s application.
The EEOC sued Abercrombie on Ms. Elauf’s behalf, arguing that Abercrombie’s refusal to hire her was a violation of Title VII. The relevant portion of Title VII states that it is a violation of the act “to fail or refuse to hire … any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual… because of such individual’s … religion.”
The EEOC won a summary judgment in District Court. But, Abercrombie successfully argued to the Tenth Circuit that because Ms. Elauf had not requested an accommodation their decision not to hire her was not a violation of Title VII. The Supreme Court, however, disagreed.
Justice Scalia, writing for the majority, said that a job applicant “need only show that his need for an accommodation was a motivating factor in the employer’s decision” to prove discrimination in violation of Title VII. Justice Scalia added that while evidence a job applicant had requested an accommodation made motive easier to prove, it was not a prerequisite to demonstrating liability. Ultimately, the court determined that an employer cannot use “actual knowledge, a well-founded suspicion or merely a hunch” about an applicant’s religion in making employment decisions. Justice Thomas was the lone dissenter.
Bryan Schwartz Law, P.C. has previously represented Sarabjit Kaur, a Sikh woman, who like Ms. Elauf faced employment discrimination because of her religious head covering. We see the Supreme Court’s decision in Abercrombie as key to ensuring that people of all religions can pursue employment free from discrimination, and hope employers will take note of this decision.
If you have concerns that your employer is discriminating against you because of your religion, or that you were not hired because you require a religious accommodation, please contact Bryan Schwartz Law, P.C..
Bryan Schwartz and team are stellar professionals. I worked really closely with Renato Flores. He was patient and showed a lot of care and rigor in explaining the ins and out to me and the practical advice he shared was outstanding. Bryan is well connected…
Exceptional people, powerful advocates, tough negotiators. Bryan Schwartz and senior associate Jane Mackie truly care about fairness and justice. Their hard work, attention to detail, and the time and responsiveness they devoted to all my questions let me know in a hundred ways that they…
I cannot say enough GREAT things about Bryan Schwartz Law, P.C. -- and in particular, former paralegal Devin Stuzin. I was recently part of a large class-action settlement -- one the firm tenaciously pursued for a whopping 17 years before getting a record settlement on…
Best people they took my case right a way and fought and win my case best lawyers in bay-area love you all
I was a member of the Doering Meyer class action lawsuit versus the State Department. Bryan Schwartz is a very tenacious and outstanding attorney. When this law firm first contacted me about the case, I was skeptical about their ability to win a case against…
Bryan Schwartz Law, P.C., is a leading employment rights law firm in the United States with a global reach. His is a legal practice of conscientiousness and virtue. Labor law protects a most fundamental right of citizenship and civic engagement. Worker rights are human rights.…
A great team, who kept me informed every step of the way along a many year path to winning a successful class action case.
The staff at this firm are very professional, responsive, friendly, and effective. They persevere for years to get results. I highly recommend them.
Amazing experience with communication and handling of this massive case; I appreciate the help and resolution.
I had a great experience with the firm. They represented me and others in a case that lasted for several years, yet I always knew who to contact and they were always responsive and professional, even as more junior team members transitioned over the years.…
Submit an inquiry to have Bryan Schwartz Law, P.C. evaluate your situation.
*Your submission of an intake request form does not guarantee that Bryan Schwartz Law, P.C. will take your case or provide legal advice. You must be offered and sign a representation agreement with the firm before you will receive any legal advice.
How did we do?
Note: Your review may be shared publicly.