US Supreme Court rules for Muslim woman denied job due to hijab at Abercrombie & Fitch

Published: June 1, 2015
Samantha Elauf (R), who was denied a sales job at an Abercrombie Kids store in Tulsa in 2008, stands with U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) lead attorney Barbara Seely (C) at the US Supreme Court in Washington, February 25, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

Samantha Elauf (R), who was denied a sales job at an Abercrombie Kids store in Tulsa in 2008, stands with U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) lead attorney Barbara Seely (C) at the US Supreme Court in Washington, February 25, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON: The US Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favor of a Muslim woman who filed a lawsuit after she was denied a job at an Abercrombie & Fitch Co clothing store in Oklahoma because she wore a head scarf for religious reasons.

On a 8-1 vote, the court handed a win to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a federal agency that sued the company on behalf of Samantha Elauf. She was denied a sales job in 2008 at an Abercrombie Kids store in Tulsa when she was 17.

Read: US justices show support for Muslim woman denied job due to hijab

The legal question before the court was whether Elauf was required to ask for a religious accommodation in order for the company to be sued under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which, among other things, bans employment discrimination based on religious beliefs and practices.

Elauf was wearing a head scarf, or hijab, at the job interview but did not specifically say that, as a Muslim, she wanted the company to give her a religious accommodation.

The company denied Elauf the job on the grounds that wearing the scarf violated its “look policy” for members of the sales staff, a policy intended to promote the brand’s East Coast collegiate image.

Read: American Muslim woman sues Abercrombie over hijab

Muslim groups said in a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Elauf that employment discrimination against Muslims is widespread in the United States. Often, the act of a woman wearing a head scarf is what triggers the discrimination, according to the brief. The EEOC has reported that Muslims file more employment claims about discrimination and the failure to provide religious accommodations than any other religious group.

Groups representing Christians, Jews and Sikhs also filed court papers backing Elauf.

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Reader Comments (20)

  • Robert Norwood
    Jun 1, 2015 - 8:34PM

    Fine – they’re the ones who look foolish. We see a scarf on a Muslim woman, we see a form of bondage, discrimination and oppression. Recommend

  • Imran
    Jun 1, 2015 - 8:57PM

    @Robert Norwood: So how do you feel about Christian nuns and their attire? Are they also in bondage, facing discrimination and oppression? Time to grow up and free your mind from bigotry and hate. Cheers.Recommend

  • ALi
    Jun 1, 2015 - 9:41PM

    @Robert Norwood:
    And who cares what you think? Recommend

  • cautious
    Jun 1, 2015 - 10:04PM

    Groups representing Christians, Jews and Sikhs also filed court papers backing Elauf.
    Worth repreating.Recommend

  • Assad
    Jun 1, 2015 - 11:30PM

    @Robert Norwood:

    Its a hijab, not a leash! Most Muslim women who wear hijab do it out of their own conviction which in my view aligns fairly well with women’s lib. Can you not let them decide on their own instead of casting aspersions about them being “oppressed” and what not?Recommend

  • globalobserver
    Jun 1, 2015 - 11:51PM


    “So how do you feel about Christian nuns and their attire?”

    Not a valid comparison. Nuns, priests, saints, the Pope etc. are not ordinary people living an average life among the general public. They are dedicated to their religious institutions. You can call that the uniforms of their religious work. They don’t have to go out and work in Abercrombie or other commercial institutions which have their own dress codes. Recommend

  • Syed
    Jun 2, 2015 - 1:05AM

    Robert Norwood, there are many bigots like you but fortunately there are still some good people left in this world. Recommend

  • ajeet
    Jun 2, 2015 - 1:07AM

    Give them an inch and they ask for a mile.Recommend

  • khurram
    Jun 2, 2015 - 2:16AM

    company had a neutral face policy and this person didn’t met that requirement, simple. I don’t see how this falls under “intentional discrimination”. If tomorrow an employer who has clean shave policy doesn’t give job to a “man with beard” does that mean, refusal of job to that person will bring discrimination a law suit?? Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Jun 2, 2015 - 2:58AM

    Such judgments are only possible in West. Thanks for not being like us.Recommend

  • Robert Norwood
    Jun 2, 2015 - 5:01AM

    @Assad: Except they MUST wear it so why not behave like it’s a choice. Now isn’t there some honor killing you can perform, throw acid in a young girl’s face? If you’re lucky you’ll come across a rape victim and get to stone her.Recommend

  • Shakti
    Jun 2, 2015 - 11:30AM

    What do nuns have to do with this? Nuns don’t apply for a job in Walmart or Abercrombie.Recommend

  • Hassan
    Jun 2, 2015 - 11:37AM

    @ajeet: so u want discrimination to prevail, what do u mean by such statement of inch and miles??? regardless of religion one should have the freedom to wear and live the way one likes to, why to support discrimination, see Tribune have allowed ur nonsense comment to be published here without discrimination, we don’t want to have any ties with India after such hatred comments , i think they should not be allowed to comment here especially those who have sick mentality like u, why don’t u just live in ur country and mind ur own business, we Pakistanis are least bothered about your views and ur life which is already rotten in slumps there in India.Recommend

  • Hassan
    Jun 2, 2015 - 11:56AM

    @Robert Norwood:
    So u think you belong the most civilized societies in the world?? the rape cases in west is far far far higher than Pakistan, secondly there was an electricity blackout that affected most of New York City had on July 13–14, 1977 resulted in city-wide looting and other disorders, including arson.Furthermore, please check out the statistics here UNODC murder rates most recent year America on top with murder rate of 16.3 and count of 157,000 per year, Asia rate 2.9 and count 122,000.
    For racism
    Studies show that police are more likely to pull over and frisk blacks or Latinos than whites. In New York City, 80% of the stops made were blacks and Latinos, and 85% of those people were frisked, compared to a mere 8% of white people stopped. Host a poetry slam to educate others on racism and reduce prejudice in your community. i can share some more shameful stories here but let it go.

    So please stop claiming to be from somewhere out of this world. we know u well but we never speak evil unnecessarily like u. Recommend

  • James
    Jun 2, 2015 - 12:24PM


    But still 90% of Pakistanis would choose to migrate to US if it opens it doors for Pakistan…….isn’t it.Recommend

  • Robert Norwood
    Jun 2, 2015 - 3:39PM

    @Hassan: They pull over blacks and Latinos because they are disproportionately responsible for crime. The mayor New York suspended “Stop and Frisk” and the murder rate among blacks etc. has sky-rocketed prompting groups who wanted it stopped to ask for its reinstatement.
    Odd isn’t it? Meanwhile how is stoning, honor killing, vaginal mutilation and pedophilia coming along in your country? The difference between us and you folks – we don’t make aberrations of human behavior law.Recommend

  • Hassan
    Jun 2, 2015 - 4:05PM

    @Robert Norwood:
    u unintentionally second my statement..well the question is not who does wrong in the society the issue is there are such elements in your society as well, so why do ur guyz pretend to be chocked to hear something criminal from other part of the world. all i was saying was u too have a society who breeds criminals, you have a self proclaimed cosmetic society, does not exist in real, u talk about rape and murder, robber, drugs, lack of family system, hippies like life, premarital parenthood, child abuse as Micheal Jackson was accused for and u are talking about aberrations of laws here in our society, i mean whats there in your society that u r so proud off. i don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings but when it comes to debate i think i had to quote you all this though unwillingly but that’s the reality my friend, as i have been to states many times and i live here in Pakistan so i can tell u the difference but since presumably as most of the American don’t visit subcontinent so u too never had the opportunity to visit Pakistan therefore u just have a one side view or at most whatever u know is through internet or CNN u don’;t have a first hand information, so stop guessing and plan ur visit to Pakistan then we will discuss this issue in detail. . Recommend

  • straightshooter
    Jun 2, 2015 - 6:11PM

    Seems the Indian trolls here have a problem dealing with the US supreme court ruling. Helpless, aren’t they?Recommend

  • Robert Norwood
    Jun 2, 2015 - 6:55PM

    Every society has things about it which it is not proud but the difference here is we do not make these things, these aberrations in human behavior, the law of the land in the way Islamic law does. In Islamic countries women are not even second class citizens, they are more like property with very few rights if any in truth. You have avoided the embarrassment of addressing these issues and point out problems in Western society. You fail to address that rapists and pedophiles are punished. Under Islam the victims are punished. I understand you cannot defend that. When muslims have the courage to say “yes, we are like that” then they will find the moral courage to be better, to improve. Honest and decent muslims must live in fear, in fear of Islamic law and the reprisals for following the moral duty of a righteous human being rather than the crimes of Islamic law. I know a bit about Pakistan, many folks from there never want to go back there. Recommend

  • Harris
    Jun 3, 2015 - 12:07AM

    Aww. @Robert Norwood’s prejudiced feelings are hurt because a court ruled in favor of a Muslim. So sorry bro, but continue with your stereotypes. Soon you’ll fall victim to someone else’s generalizations about you. Good day Robby!Recommend

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