McNamee Hosea News & Press


Teenager Wins Religious Discrimination Claim Against Retailer

The protections against employment discrimination provided by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are designed to protect employees in every industry and workplace -- provided the employer has 15 or more employees. Protected categories include race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.

Notably, Title VII applies even if an industry’s product is deliberately marketed to consumers in those protected categories. A teenager’s recent employment discrimination lawsuit against fashion retailer Abercrombie & Fitch proves this point.

The 18-year-old girl sued the retailer for its dress code, contained in an employee grooming guidebook that might be analogous to the employee handbooks used in other industries. According to the complaint, which was filed on her behalf by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a store manager requested that she remove her hijab, or headscarf, while on duty. However, the girl is also a Muslim, and the scarf was worn for religious reasons. She refused to remove it, and four moths later, she was terminated.

In the fashion industry, a company might attempt to cultivate a look that is specific to members of a particular race or sex. In this case, Abercrombie defended its dress code as a marketing tactic to its trendy consumers. The company also stated that it would offer reasonable accommodations on the basis of religion. However, the retailer argued that deviations from its dress code policy -- such as a hijab worn for modesty -- did not constitute a reasonable religious accommodation because it might hurt sales.

The judge assigned to the case didn’t agree. In his opinion, he noted that Abercrombie had failed to provide evidence of any decline in its sales during the girl’s four-month period of employment.

Source:, “Muslim Fired by Abercrombie for Head Scarf Says Policy ‘Very Unfair’,” Reena Ninan