Abercrombie & Fitch faces religious discrimination lawsuit over hijab ban

US fashion giant Abercrombie & Fitch are renowned for their raunchy ads, as the supersized billboard pictured here serves to indicate.A&F

Now sexiness and Islam, as we all know, don’t exactly blend. Which makes one wonder why on earth Samantha Elauf, a 19-year-old Muslim community college student from Tulsa, Oklahoma, would want to work for a company that shamelessly uses sex to peddle its wares.

Granted, the job she applied for was at a Tulsa Abercrombie Kids store where, we assume, sexiness is kept to a minimum.

Trouble, according to this report, began when Elauf wore a black hijab when she applied for the post. She later learned via a friend who worked in the store that the headscarf had cost her the job.

Elauf then went to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which has now filed a suit against the company on her behalf. Elauf is suing for back pay and compensation related to “emotional pain and anxiety”.

The suit alleges that Abercrombie

Refused to hire Ms. Elauf because she wears a hijab, claiming that the wearing of the headgear was prohibited by its Look Policy.

This means that Abercrombie

Failed to accommodate her religious beliefs by making an exception to the Look Policy. These actions constitute discrimination against Ms. Elauf on the basis of religion.

The EEOC alleges that during its investigation, Abercrombie & Fitch flatly told the agency, in a position statement, that
under ‘The Look Policy’, associates must wear clothing that is consistent with the Abercrombie brand, cannot wear hats or other coverings, and cannot wear clothes that are the colour black.

When contacted for a response, Abercrombie & Fitch issued the following statement:

We cannot comment on pending litigation. We have a strong equal-opportunity policy, and we accommodate religious beliefs and practices when possible. We are confident that the litigation of this matter will demonstrate that we have followed the law in every respect.

As for Elauf, she is under attorney’s orders to keep quiet about the case. But her grandfather, Ata Elauf, is clearly irked.

They put a wedge into her Americanism. She grew up here speaking the language, going to school. Why did they do this? She’s sort of confused.