Abercrombie & Fitch Sued by Muslim Employee Over Head Scarf
A former employee at Hollister, an Abercrombie & Fitch chain, claims she was fired after refusing to remove her headscarf (hijab). The young woman, Hani Khan, is joining a suit with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission against the retailer on the grounds of religious discrimination.
Ms. Khan, who was hired as a stockroom clerk, said she was told when she was hired that wearing the hijab would be okay as long as it was consistent with the company’s colors.
In February of last year, the same month Ms. Khan was fired, she told AOL News, "The manager mentioned the store’s ‘look policy’ and said I’d have to wear either a white, navy or gray-colored scarf. I was fine with that."
Ms. Khan said she was later suspended and then fired after refusing to remove the garment following a request by a district manager and a human resources manager at the company.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations is representing Ms. Khan in the case.
Zahra Billoo, executive director of the Bay Area office for the organization, told the San Mateo County Times, "For an employer to, point-blank, require an employee to relinquish their religious practice is a violation of our cherished civil rights laws. It’s really important that individual rights are protected and the 1964 Civil Rights Act is upheld."
According to Reuters, the current lawsuit "echoes similar complaints brought against Abercrombie & Fitch in the past by black, Latino and other minority workers and applicants who alleged the company had a ‘look policy’ that discriminated against them."
The news service points out that the retailer reached a $40 million deal in 2004 to settle a federal class action suit brought against it over its employment practices for minority workers.
Abercrombie & Fitch has not responded to the charges as of yet.
- Muslim woman sues Abercrombie & Fitch over hijab – San Mateo County Times/San Jose Mercury News
- Muslim accuses US retailer of banning head scarf – Reuters
- Store Fires Woman for Wearing Muslim Head Scarf – AOL News
Discussion Questions: Is physical appearance or dress a valid reason for not hiring an otherwise qualified person for a job at retail? What should be done at Abercrombie & Fitch if the charges brought by Hani Khan are shown to have merit?