EEOC Charges Abercrobmie & Fitch Violated Muslim Employee’s Rights

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed suit yesterday against Abercrobmie & Fitch, alleging that the clothing retailer violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act when it fired a Muslim employee because she wore a hijab, a religious head scarf.

According  to the EEOC’s suit, in October 2009, Umme-Hani Khan, a 19-year-old Muslim woman,  started working at the Hollister store (an Abercrombie & Fitch brand  targeting teenagers aged 14 through 18) at the Hillsdale Shopping Center in San  Mateo, Calif. As an “impact associate,”  she worked primarily in the stockroom. At  first she was asked to wear headscarves in Hollister colors, which she agreed  to do. However, in mid-February, she  was informed that her hijab violated Abercrombie’s  “look policy,” an internal dress code, and was told she would be taken off  schedule unless she removed her headscarf while at work. According to the EEOC, Khan was fired on Feb.  23, 2010, for refusing to take off the hijab  that her religious beliefs compelled her to wear.

“Ms. Khan held a low-visibility position, willingly  color-coordinated her headscarf with the store’s brand and capably performed  her stockroom duties for four and half months until a visiting manager flagged  her hijab as a violation of their ‘look  policy’,” said EEOC San Francisco District Director Michael Baldonado. “What undue burden did this retail giant face  that prevented them from allowing her to practice her faith? Moreover, what kind of statement of  intolerance are they sending to their teen customers?”

Maybe there’s something in the West Coast water, because this is the second time in two years that the EEOC has sued the retailer for allegedly violating the rights of Muslim employees. Last year it was its refusal to hire a Muslim job applicant because she wore a head scarf.

Read more about the EEOC’s cases here.

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