Muslim woman sues Abercrombie re: hijab.

This was an eyebrow-raiser.

I still can’t figure out if she was fired for wearing it or not wearing it in ‘company colors’.

What the hell? She’s in the stockroom, not the sales floor. What do they care? (Most retail stores have a policy of how you are supposed to dress and such. And I see many fashionable women in Denver with hijabs, often with clothes nicer than mine.)

I read this as a case of wrongful termination or on-the-job discrimination. Thoughts?

Let her wear the friggin hijab.

What I wonder is how she got hired in the first place if this is against the company’s policy. Abercrombie does not have a 1000+ year history and is a cultural black hole. They do not have an image based on a certain ‘look’. In(sh)allah this law suit will make her wealthy.

This is what I meant about ‘termination’ suit instead of blatant ‘hey jerkface, you didn’t hire me’ or whatever.

It says it was not a problem, then was a problem.

Thisarticle makes it more clear.

There is something about Abercrombie and discrimination. One-armed woman sues Abercrombie and Fitch for putting her in the stock room instead of on the shop floor. She wore a sweater to hide her prosthesis, but the A&C manager said that this contravened policy. When she refused to remove the sweater she was told she was breaking store policy.

Pet theory on reading both stories: A&F are actually probably non-discriminatory, but individual managers take their rules-enforcement remit way too far. Possibly with a pinch of personal prejudice thrown in too.

It seems fairly straightforward as reported. I would not be surprised if this was somehow within A+F’s rights. I never feel like I have any basic understanding of the law when it comes to private businesses vs. individual rights. My bias is always toward individual rights and I often find myself legally wrong.

jjimm’s theory corresponds perfectly with my own experience in an analogous, though not as important to religious liberty, situation.

It’s almost certainly not within their rights. You need a bona fide occupational qualification — it’s unlikely that allowance for discrimination would work for someone with direct contact with customers, much less a stockroom worker. Expect A&F to try to settle quickly.

Well, I know how hard it is to get a job there in the first place, I tried to go in there to work as a dummy dresser and product organizer, bu they turned me down because of the “look policy” I wear glasses and don’t have a ripped body, so of course I don’t fit the look. Would I be out of line to akin A&F with Nazis?

“Ugly people” is not a protected class, so no.

Not to say you’re ugly, just that’s what you seemed to be saying A&F thought.

Does a strip club for men have to hire male dancers alongside the female strppers?

Can Hooters claim its image is based on attractive women serving hot-wings or do they have to hire an 80-year-old woman (or men)?

Can the Catholic Church in the US refuse to hire a Muslim for a secretarial position? Can the Muslim wear a hijab to work?

Look, I am generally on the side of the individual in these things and this case seems bad for A&F particularly because the woman was in the stock room.

That said I think I should be allowed to open a business that, in part, works because it projects a particular image. If I want to open a hijab store I think I should be allowed to demand my employees wear hijabs.

You’re mixing several things. All of the questions you posted depend on context.

For strippers and Hooter’s waitresses they are hiring models. It’s also how casinos hire staff and plenty of other businesses. That the models have duties that include (sometimes primarily) other functions isn’t important. When hiring a someone specifically as a model you can specify things such as age, sex, weight, and looks.

For the Catholic Church (or any religion) not hiring someone of a different faith is fine too. There is a religious exemption to the Employment Non-Discrimation Act that allows businesses (profit or non), corporations and educational institutions to have religious requirements as long as they are owned entirely or substantially by a religious organization or if the curiculum is geared to toward religious education. This is given a pretty broad intrepretation, a Mormon gym was allowed to require their janitor to be a Mormon in good standing in a '87 court case.

If you want all your employees to wear a hijab that’s fine. Or make none of your employees wear them. Just specify it as part of the uniform. You can establish any uniform you want as long as you tell everyone and apply it fairly.

Where A&F is going to get in trouble is that they apparently weren’t up front about the uniform policy when she was hired. I expect a specific line about headwear will soon be added to the employee handbook from corporate HR.

That’s all for private businesses of course, the Federal government has different rules to follow when hiring. They can’t really hire models for example, nor can they ban religious clothing as part of a uniform.

I did provide a link that explains the concept, you know — reading the Wiki should answer all your questions.

ETA: I’m not sure that there’s been a precedent yet, Oldeb, but it seems highly unlikely that a “uniform” is going to qualify you for a BFOQ. We had this conversation a while ago with the woman who got fired from Disney for taking up wearing a hijab.

It answers some questions but my instinct is this area of law has a huge gray area in it.

There’s some, but I suspect it’s much smaller than you think it is. Certainly, case law has essentially covered all the questions you asked above.

Very well put. And I agree that if she was just going to be in the stock room, then A&F was out of line. I can’t find it now (maybe down thread), but I thought in one of the articles I read about this it was mentioned that she wanted to be on the floor, and that’s when the trouble started. If not, then she’s got a good case.

In the sense that this is true for Hooters, it is true for A&F. In both cases, they are, in essence, characters in costume.

I have no idea if this was the case but it seems A&F fired her for wearing the hijab. If she had expressed her desire to be on the floor and A&F said that’d be fine but she has to lose the hijab or if she doesn’t want to she can continue in the stock room it’d be a different case.

Not really. While everyone knows A&F only hire people who look like they have a coke habit and spend a lot of time in the gym, they don’t openly admit that they only hire people who look like they have a coke habit and spent a lot of time in the gym.

Conversely, Hooters is very upfront about how it only hires good looking girls who liberally use the word “sweetie” - at least, it is now, a half-dozen lawsuits later.

I don’t think this is true. US law requires employers to make any reasonable accommodation for employees religious requirements. So even if A&F had a uniform policy against headwear, they’d need to show that allowing an exception for hijabs would be an unreasonable burden. Given the woman apparently worked in the stockroom, its pretty hard to come up with a plausible reason letting her wear her hijab would be a problem.

Seems like I’ve read about a couple of lawsuits over the years against A&F that could’ve been avoided if they’d just admit that part of their floor employees job is to model their clothing. Not really relevant in this case since the woman worked in the back, but I wonder why A&F doesn’t just explicitly list modeling as part of the job.

Stockroom people are not always in the stockroom. One of the main parts of their job is bringing new stock out to restock the store displays as items are sold. So at that point, she would be appearing on the sales floor, in view of customers. And allowing her to always stay in the stockroom would be giving her different work conditions than other stockroom employees. And making it harder on the managers, who would have to give her special treatment.

The problem is they hired her, and specifically told her that it was no problem. You examples don’t really apply.
It may be a case where a local manager made judgement call and then the district manager nixed it. That happens, but they have to be smart about how they handle it or they are open to this kind of lawsuit. Sounds like they weren’t.