A federal judge in California, recently found Abercrombie & Fitch in violation of equal- employment laws when it fired a Muslim employee for wearing a religious headscarf. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), 19 year-old Umme-Hani Khan, was fired from the chain’s Hollister store in San Mateo, California in February 2010, for refusing to remove her hijab.
Ms. Kahn worked primarily in the company’s stockroom from October 2009 until her dismissal, and complied with her employer’s request to wear headscarves in Hollister colors. She was later told that the hijab violated the company’s dress code or “Look Policy.” Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled that Khan was clearly “terminated for non-compliance with the company’s Look Policy”, her only violation being the religious headscarf.
Abercrombie, which could not be reached for comment, has two other suits pending involving Muslim employees or applicants with headscarves, but maintains that its dress code is at the heart of its business model.
Damages and injunctive relief will be determined at a trial set for September 30. Under Title VII, religious discrimination is defined as treating an applicant or employee unfavorably because of his or her religious beliefs. The law prohibits treating someone differently because of his or her association with an individual of a particular religion, or because of his or her connection with a religious group or organization.
Although the law does not protect against teasing or offhand comments, it does forbid harassment based on a person’s religious beliefs. Harassment includes, any offensive remarks about a person’s religious beliefs or practices. Harassment is defined as being so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile work environment or when it results in adverse employment actions where the victim is, for example, demoted or fired. The law forbids discrimination in any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, training, promotions, layoffs and any other term or condition of employment. It also protects against workplace or job segregation based on religion.
Unless doing so would create more than a minimal burden on the operations of an employer’s business, the law requires an employer to make reasonable accommodations for an employee’s religious beliefs or practices. Reasonable accommodations include, flexible scheduling, voluntary shift substitutions, job reassignments, and reasonable modifications to workplace policies and practices that allow an employee to practice his or her religion. An employer does not have to accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices if doing so would infringe on other employee’s rights or cause an undue hardship on the business.
Employee rights are constantly in danger. If you or someone you love has experienced employee discrimination, wrongful termination, or any violation of their employee rights in Seattle, Bellevue, or anywhere in the State of Washington, call Phillips Law Firm at 1-800-708-6000. Our Washington employee rights lawyers are waiting to assist you 24/7, offering a free case evaluation. Remember our no fee promise. If we do not recover anything for you, you do not owe us an attorney fee.