Abercrombie & Fitch v. EEOC

Posted: March 8, 2015 by beguide in case summaries, employment discrimination, Religious Freedom

WHAT HAPPENED: This case comes before the Court as a result of Abercrombie and Fitch failing to hire a Muslim teenager who wore a headscarf during her interview. After the interview concluded, the interviewing employee for A&F noted on the interview form that the headscarf violated A&F’s “look policy” which was the reason the girl was not hired. This case went to the EEOC, which is a government agency that investigates employment discrimination, who argued that A&F was required to provide an accommodation that would allow her to wear the Muslim headscarf during work.

WHY IS THIS BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT: Employment Discrimination has a complicated procedure when it comes before the Court, in which both sides have burdens of proof that bounce back and forth between the parties. These burdens are often factually specific, and consider the interactions with the parties as a basis for whether or not the case proceeds. In the present case, the Court must determine whether or not the applicant, who appeared for the interview with a headscarf, has an affirmative duty to ask for an accommodation, or if the employer should just assume based on the applicant’s appearance.

WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATIONS OF THIS DECISION: This decision could affect the factual burden that faces both employees and employers during discrimination actions. Putting the burden on a potential employee who is unaware of his/her responsibility to ask for an accommodation, or is too afraid to ask, could chill a person’s personal expression. On the other hand, requiring an employer assume that an accommodation is necessary could be an unreasonable burden when hiring new employees. The hyperbolic conclusion argued by employers is that an employer would have to assume accommodations are necessary for religious tattoos or even a cross on a necklace.

WHAT WAS THE RULING: This case is not yet decided.

YOU ARE ROOTING FOR EEOC IF: you harbor deep-seeded resentment toward kids you went to high school with and/or kids who go to high school now.

YOU ARE ROOTING FOR THE ABERCROMBIE AND FITCH IF: you’re sick of nerds and geeks ruining it for all the cool kids.

WHO WAS RIGHT: Brett believed that A&F would win, as the Court would consider the broader ruling as opposed to the specific application of the rule to this case. Nazim believed that EEOC would win this specific case, but that the law would not be broadly construed to apply to all future discrimination cases.

  1. […] has used creative means to ban private discrimination in states and private businesses.  The Abercrombie & Fitch v. EEOC case is also discussed, which discussed the age-old battle between trendy clothes and religious […]


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