Abercrombie & Fitch Jobs Reviewed By Supreme Court Over ‘Look Policy’

Abercrombie & Fitch is headed to the US Supreme Court for a case of discrimination based on a store’s decision not to hire an applicant because she did not adhere to their “look policy.”

The case of then 17 year old, Samantha Elauf, quickly gained the attention of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Elauf was turned down for the position of an Abercrombie model at a Tulsa, Oklahoma store because the store’s manager didn’t believe her hijab complied with their style expectations.

The EEOC went forward with a case against the clothing company on the belief that Elauf’s head scarf that was part of her Muslim faith was the reason she was not hired. They are requesting that the US Supreme Court determine whether or not Abercrombie violated federal law, Title VII, as a result.

Cases like this are not easy for courts to rule on as a fine line is present between what employers are actually allowed to ask applicants in terms of their religion. Employers are bound by federal law to “reasonably accommodate” employers bases upon their religion and/or disabilities, but they are also unable to specifically ask questions pertaining to either issue during the interviewing process as well.

Abiding by federal law and trying to make the necessary accommodations can really land employers in quite a predicament, with the struggle for balance often landing them in hot water.

A brief filed by Abercrombie in the case in question said, “[A]n applicant or employee cannot remain silent before the employer regarding the religious nature of his or her conflicting practice and need for an accommodation and still hope to prevail in a religion-accommodation case.”

“Abercrombie expends a great deal of effort to ensure that its target customers receive a holistically brand-based, sensory experience. To Abercrombie, a Model who violates the Look Policy by wearing inconsistent clothing ‘inaccurately represents the brand, causes consumer confusion, fails to perform an essential function of the position, and ultimately damages the brand,” the brief continued.

The company has since made changes to their controversial “look” policy as a result of the case filed by the EEOC as a result of Elauf’s denial of a position with the company.

Elauf has also moved on from her days of wanting to work at the clothing store. She is now in her early 20’s and has a fashion blog for Simon’s Style Setter.

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