The Federal Court concluded that Abercrombie failed to accommodate the employee’s sincerely-held religious belief that she was required her to wear a headscarf, including while at work. Title VII makes it an “unlawful employment practice for an employer . . . to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges or employment, because of such individual’s . . . religion.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). “The term ‘religion’ includes all aspects of religious observance and practice, as well as belief, unless an employer demonstrates that he is unable to reasonably accommodate to an employee’s . . . religious observance or practice without undue hardship on the conduct of the employer’s business.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(j).
The court decided that Abercrombie failed to establish undue hardship which requires an employer to show that the requested accommodation would result in “more than a de minimus cost.” Abercrombie failed to offer evidence that the employee headscarf outfit had an effect on sales, the brand, or any customer’s experience. Instead, Abercrombie only offered unsubstantiated opinion testimony of its own employees to support its claim of undue hardship.
This lawsuit echoes other lawsuits brought by the EEOC against Abercrombie & Fitch over Abercrombie’s refusal to hire an applicant due to her headscarf at the ‘abercrombie kids’ store in Milpitas and over the company’s ‘all-American look’ policy which resulted in 2005 in a six-year consent decree and $40 million paid to a class of African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos and women who were excluded from hire or promotions.
If you think you have a claim for discrimination, please contact the Harman Law Firm, LLP.