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Abercrombie & Fitch loses employment discrimination lawsuit

Workers have many protections against discrimination on the grounds of race, sex, age, religious beliefs and, in some states, sexual orientation. Failure to abide by such laws could lead to a lawsuit against an employer who is alleged to have engaged in discrimination. On Monday, June 8, 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in a religious discrimination lawsuit against a Muslim job seeker against clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch Store, Inc.

Abercrombie & Fitch employment policies include a rule against an employee wearing "caps" while working in their chain stores. Known as the "Look Policy," it is in place to maintain the company's fashion image. However, during the application process a Muslim was denied employment due to her religious requirement that she wear a headscarf while at work.

The lawsuit eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that even though Abercrombie & Fitch was not aware of any violation, it was still responsible for the employment discrimination case. The law states that religious factors cannot be a motivating factor in the hiring decision, and that employers must accommodate all religious practices that do not impose an undue hardship to the employer.

Anyone who believes they have been the victim of workplace discrimination may need to be sure to file the appropriate complaints in a timely manner. Failure to do so may make a case invalid. Getting the right information about employment discrimination laws and procedures can be a good first step.

Source: New York Times, "Muslim Woman Denied Job Over Head Scarf Wins in Supreme Court," Adam Liptak, June 1, 2015

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