FYI Abercrombie: Discrimination Is So Out of Style

UPDATE - June 1, 2015: Supreme Court Rules Abercrombie Headwear-Banning “Look Policy” is Discriminatory, Denying Religious Accommodations Violates Title VII.

The Supreme Court will soon hear the case of Samantha Elauf, a Muslim teenager who was denied a job at an Abercrombie store solely because her religious headscarf, or hijab, didn't meet the company's "look policy." Abercrombie doesn't contest this fact. Instead, the retailer simply argues that it's off the hook because Elauf never explicitly asked the company not to discriminate against her.

If this sounds absurd, it's because it is.

Although not aware of the official look policy, Elauf had been advised by a friend who worked for Abercrombie that wearing a hijab shouldn't be a problem, especially if it wasn't black, a color the chain prohibits. At her interview, Elauf scored highly on all three interview criteria – including, ironically, being "outgoing and promot[ing] diversity"— and received a final score that indicated she should be hired. Although Elauf was wearing her headscarf, the interviewer didn't mention any potential issues, despite discussing other requirements, such as a ban on excessive makeup and nail polish.

The interviewer concluded that Elauf wore a hijab for religious reasons and was fully qualified for the job; a supervisor didn't see it the same way, however. A headscarf would violate the look policy, he said, and Elauf therefore shouldn't be hired.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on religion. How then has Abercrombie gotten away with it thus far? According to the company, even though the interviewer assumed that Elauf wore a hijab for religious reasons, without Elauf stating it explicitly, managers couldn't know for sure. Put another way, Elauf should somehow have assumed that Abercrombie would discriminate against her and politely ask that they not.

Today, the ACLU and the ACLU of Oklahoma, together with a broad coalition of religious groups, filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Elauf and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Open your eyes, Abercrombie. Discrimination is not in style.

Learn more about hiring discrimination and other civil liberties issues: Sign up for breaking news alertsfollow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

View comments (5)
Read the Terms of Use


You'd think they would have gotten the message—


For a starter, i would rather buy from a business where bigotory is not a style! Adios Aber what ever!!!


Good luck with getting a SNOOTY company like that to do anything decent.
I lived with a doctor for 18 years, and his family was so snooty about fashion it wasn't even funny. They used to look down their noses at Abercrombie & Fitch. You had to be wearing Armani and Chanel to make THEM happy - and even then they WEREN'T at peace with themselves or the world.
BTW the doctor WASN'T like that. He rebeled against it almost completely by wearing old clothes that were less than $500 a piece.

Also, we need a NEW Supreme Court. They make decisions EMOTIONALLY and not based on laws at all.


If Abercrombie & Fitch are a fashion outlet isn't it their Right to promote whatever style they choose? isn't this Muslim fashion blogger actually anti-fashion and anti-Rights? why can't she respect the organization enough to allow them to promote the ideal they choose? they didn't deny her a job because of her thoughts but because of her appearance, which is completely logical in this case.


What is this Muslim wench doing in our country? Making demands of us and not contributing. It's quite simple really if she does like it here just go back to her country where she can wear her silly clothes as much as she likes.

Stay Informed