Abercrombie & Fitch Lawsuit That Isn’t Really About Hijabs Presented To Supreme Court

Five years ago, a teen applied for a job at a store selling clothes for a children’s clothing store that is part of the Abercrombie & Fitch brand. She wore a hijab, a headcovering that many female Muslims wear, and said that she would continue to wear it to work. This week, her case is before the U.S. Supreme Court, asking an odd question: does a job applicant need to specify that they’re wearing a religious garment or accessory for religious reasons?

Some women might tie a scarf around their heads on a bad hair day, but not every day. The core problem in this case is the question of how employers can decide which accessories should be exempted from the dress code without interrogating workers about their faith during a job interview.

That company has been infamous for its very strict “look” policy for employees, dictating their appearance down to the pattern of the highlights in their hair. However, they insist that they didn’t mean to discriminate against her for her religion, but that she never specified that she wore a head covering for religious reasons.

The Supreme Court justices discussed this, wondering what religious garb is universally understood in our culture, and could end with employers relying on stereotypes if job applicants don’t volunteer information about themselves.

In a Case of Religious Dress, Justices Explore the Obligations of Employers [New York Times]