SCOTUS Delivers Justice To A Muslim Woman In Abercrombie & Fitch Case
The Muslim girl who was turned down for a job after showing up to the interview wearing a black headscarf finally got her justice.
Back in 2008, 17-year-old Samantha Elauf applied for a job at an Abercrombie Kids store in Tulsa, Oklahoma and was turned away all because of her hijab.
During the interview, Elauf was never asked about her hijab, nor did she once voice her religious views.
She was never asked if she would be wearing her turban-styled hijab daily or if it was just a fashion statement, but the assistant store manager correctly assumed she wore it because she is a Muslim.
When the manager discussed Samantha’s interview with her superior, the superior told the manager to lower Samantha’s score because of the hijab.
The US Supreme Court heard the case, brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over the retailer’s decision and indicated that they will side with the now fashion blogger and merchandizing manager (not with Abercrombie), with her employee discrimination claim.
Justice Samuel Alito said there was no reason not to hire Samntha, unless the company assumed she would wear the headscarf daily to work because of her religion.
Alito attacked the hot-button argument by brining up a hypothetical question.
He described a scenario wherein a Sikh man wore a turban, a Hasidic man wore a hat, a Muslim woman wore a hijab and a Catholic nun in a habit all show up for an interview.
Then, Alito turned and asked the lawyer representing Abercrombie, "Do you think that those people have to say, 'we just want to tell you, we're dressed this way for a religious reason? We're not just trying to make a fashion statement.'”
Abercrombie defended its decision by stating that it follows a procedural “look book,” which bans caps and black clothing.
It also claimed it was upon Samantha to tell her interviewer that the scarf held religious significance to her and that it would, in fact, be a part of her daily outfit.
Abercrombie & Fitch is no stranger to facing discrimination claims.
In 2004, it settled a $40 million sexual and gender discrimination case with thousands of female employees.
Hollister, its sister company, was sued by a 19-year-old woman after she refused to take of her hijab when the store's manager asked her to do so.
The company has since altered its headscarf policy, but remains firm on the no black rule.
Abercrombie’s website has an entire section devoted to diversity,
"Diversity is about who you are as an individual – what’s seen and unseen. It also includes the rich differences between individuals such as race, gender, family, sexual orientation, work experience, physical ability, and religion."
But, if the company truly believed its own statement, then shouldn’t it admit the mistake?
Amy Zehrer, the company's executive vice president stated:
"Diversity and inclusion are key to our organization’s success. We are determined to have a diverse culture, throughout our organization, that benefits from the perspectives of each individual."
The hijab is a part of Samantha; it is who she is. Turning her down for a job because of that goes against what Abercrombie claims stand for.
How diverse can a group of employees be if Abercrombie continues to weed out the ones who come across as "different" and do not fit into the company's "look book?"
Samantha shared an inspiring message on her Instagram page.
"Today has been so surreal, having my case heard by the Supreme Court has definitely been one of the most exciting/overwhelming experiences I have ever encountered. "When I first started this case it was to stand up for what I believe in and after today I am so glad I did. Never let anyone tell you aren't good enough to do something, we can all help make our world a more fair and equal place. "Never forget that."
We won't, Samantha, we won't.