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Supreme Court Finds Religious Discrimination

In a victory for victims of discrimination, the Supreme Court of the United States has just ruled in favor of a Muslim woman who was denied a job at Abercrombie and Fitch. Allegedly, the clothing store did not hire her because of her head covering. After being turned down from the job, CNN reports that the woman, Samantha Elauf, filed a religious discrimination lawsuit against the retailer.

Title VII prohibits religious discrimination–that means your employer may not discriminate against you “because of” your religious beliefs. This also prohibits harassment based on your religious beliefs as well as retaliation against you for complaining about religious discrimination or for participating in someone else’s religious discrimination case.

If you follow a recognized religious faith, and your faith requires you to engage in certain practices or wear certain types of clothing while in the workplace, your employer must make reasonable efforts to accommodate you. That means allowing you to wear a religious head covering or engage in prayers, as long as the practice does not place an undue burden on your employer.

Here, the woman had applied for a job working in the store, and was informed before the interview concerning the company’s “look policy,” which included things such as not wearing a lot of make up, and avoid black clothing and nail polish. However, the issue of her head scarf never came up. After the assistant manager who interviewed Elauf told the manager that she assumed Elauf was Muslim, the manager stated that Elauf shouldn’t be hired, because the scarf was “inconsistent with the look policy.”

Abercrombie asserted that they didn’t have “actual knowledge” of her need for an accommodation, but the Court disagreed, with Justice Antonin Scalia stating, “An applicant need show only that his need for an accommodation was a motivating factor in the employer’s decision, not that the employer had knowledge of his need.”

The lower court will now take this case under further consideration. For more info or if you believe you may have been the victim of any type of employment discrimination, please contact the experienced Atlanta discrimination attorneys at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP, LLP for an immediate case evaluation.

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