The US Supreme court on Monday ruled in favor of a Muslim woman who was denied a job at the Abercrombie & Fitch
clothing chain in 2008 because her Muslim headscarf did not comply with the retailer's "look policy."
Claiming that Abercrombie's policy is unconstitutional as it denies a person's right to religious expression the Supreme court ruled 8-1 that the decision was a form of religious discrimination in the landmark case. The case dates back to 2008 when Samantha Elauf who was 17 at that time turned up to an interview for a "sales model" position at Abercrombie Kids in Tulsa wearing a traditional Muslim headscarf but was denied the job.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a federal government agency sued Abercrombie on behalf of Elauf who confronted the store's infamous "look policy". The clothing company is known for guidelines on clothing accessories, and even makeup or "Abercrombie style" which it defines as a "classic East Coast collegiate style". The foundation for the EEOC's case was Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which stipulates that employers are not allowed to discriminate against potential hires based on their religious beliefs or practice.
The ruling was welcomed by the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), which campaigns for the civil liberties of Muslim communities in the US. "We welcome this historic ruling in defence of religious freedom at a time when the American Muslim community is facing increased levels of Islamophobia,"
said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.
Elauf, now 24 is a successful fashion blogger and store merchandising manager for Urban Outfitters. She initially won a $20,000 judgement against Abercrombie before a federal district court, however the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver then threw that out, ruling in favor of Abercrombie, before the high court backed Elauf.
Abercrombie & Fitch has received criticism for the 'look policy' imposed on staff working in their stores before, with the company later changing ts policy after various settlements to allow employees to wear hijabs at work. However in light of Elauf's case the clothing brand have made it clear that the case will continue, with a spokesperson saying: 'We will determine our next steps in the litigation.'