The Council on American Islamic Relations Oklahoma chapter has filed a religious discrimination complaint on behalf of a Muslim woman who said she was denied employment at a Tulsa store because of her headscarf.
Thursday Samantha Elaus, 18, of Tulsa said she applied for a job at the Abercrombie children’s clothing store in Woodland Hills Mall and was “shocked” when she was told her Islamic headscarf or ‘hijab’ “does not fit the company’s image.”
Razi Hashmi, the CAIR chapter’s executive director, said CAIR filed a complaint on the teen’s behalf with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in mid-July, citing religious discrimination.
An employee who answered the phone at the Tulsa Abercrombie store said he had been asked to direct all inquiries about the complaint to a corporate spokesman. A spokesman at the Abercrombie corporate office did not return calls on Thursday.
Also, the EEOC Oklahoma City field office could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Hashmi said CAIR is asking that the store offer the applicant a formal apology. He also said the organization wants the store’s policy on religious accommodation clarified and workplace sensitivity and diversity training to be implemented for employees there.
He said she was told by Abercrombie store officials that she could not wear black and she accepted that rule, but wanted to wear her hijab, the traditional Islamic headscarf often worn by Muslim women.
“She asked if there would be a problem initially and was told there wouldn’t be,” Hashmi said. Elaus said she was told that her hiring was quashed by a leader at the store’s district level.
“Being Muslim and wearing a hijab is who I am,” she said. “I’ve had jobs before and was never not hired because I wear a hijab.”
She said she was hired by another mall store shortly after being rejected by Abercrombie.