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Religious dress discrimination case decided by Supreme Court

If you have ever walked past an Abercrombie & Fitch store, you are likely familiar with the “vibe” that the store attempts to project. Its visual displays and scents can be perceived from surprisingly far away. But perhaps its most significant vibe-related focus is its employees. This store has come under fire in recent years for its policies related to its employee “look” policy. It has specifically come under fire for hiring restrictions based on the perceived physical attractiveness of applicants and the body types of those applicants.

However, no employee-related scandal has rocked Abercrombie & Fitch quite like the scandal that recently landed the company in front of the Supreme Court. The case involves a young woman who applied to work at the “kids” version of the clothing giant. She aced her interview, scoring high enough to land her a job. However, she was denied a position because her religious headscarf did not fit in with the “classic East Coast collegiate style” of the brand’s dress code.

The Supreme Court frequently issues decisions that are split 5-4. However, the young woman won her case against Abercrombie & Fitch in a stunning 8-1 victory. When Justice Antonin Scalia announced the decision earlier this month, he said simply, “This is really easy.”

When employers refuse to hire individuals because they want to avoid having to accommodate the religious practices of those applicants, such behaviors are generally forbidden under the law. This “easy” victory will hopefully inspire employers to avoid discriminating against individuals due to their religious dress, even if that dress traditionally clashes with the vibe they hope to project.

Source: New York Times, “Muslim Woman Denied Job Over Head Scarf Wins in Supreme Court,” Adam Liptak, June 1, 2015

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