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Supreme Court ruling favors Muslim teen in religious discrimination case

In February we wrote a post about the case of Samantha Elauf, a Muslim woman who, while a teen, was denied employment at the popular West Coast clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch. In 2008, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against the retailer on Elauf's behalf after the company declined to hire the then 17-year-old because "her head scarf clashed with the company's 'Look Policy'."

Citing religious discrimination by the employer, a lower court ruled in Elauf's favor and awarded her $20,000. However, an appellate court later overturned the matter, contending that the teen never informed the company that she wore the head scarf for religious reasons so the company's decision not to hire the teen was based solely on the terms of its established dress code.

The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court who recently ruled in Elauf's favor and remanded the case. In its seven to eight ruling, members of the Supreme Court noted that Abercrombie knew or should have known or suspected that Elauf wore the head scarf for religious reasons. It did not matter, therefore that Elauf failed to explicitly state that the head scarf was tied to her religious beliefs.

Members of minority and religious groups often face discrimination in many areas of their lives. This includes acts of discrimination and harassment in the workplace where offhand comments, work re-assignments and dress codes can serve to oppress and discriminate employees who are Muslim or other religions and faiths.

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

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