Abercrombie can add another loss to its collection of court cases now that the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of former Abercrombie applicant Samantha Elauf, who said she was not hired by the retailer because she wore a head scarf for religious reasons.
In 2008, Elauf interviewed with an assistant manager of one of the retailer’s locations, who assumed she was wearing her scarf for religious reasons. When the assistant manager went to the district manager to confirm the hire, Elauf was passed over because her scarf was deemed in violation of the retailer’s look policy.
Abercrombie’s legal team argued that the retailer should not be responsible for discerning whether or not a head scarf is worn for religious reasons, as it could lead to stereotyping and that Elauf should have notified them that she needed an exception made for her. Justice Scalia said that Abercrombie’s aversion to hiring Elauf was “synonymous with refusing to accommodate the religious practice,” as it was clear that she was not hired in order for Abercrombie to avoid making an exception for her.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission took the case on behalf of Elauf, who won by an 8-1 ruling. The court also mentioned that Elauf didn’t need to let Abercrombie know that an exception needed to be made to the look policy in order to accommodate her religious beliefs.