(OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, 7/31/2008) - The Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-OK) announced today that it has filed an EEOC complaint on behalf of a Muslim woman who was allegedly denied employment at an Abercrombie Kids store in that state because of the applicant's religiously-mandated headscarf, or hijab.
The woman told CAIR-OK that a district manager claimed he could not hire her because her Islamic headscarf "does not fit the Abercrombie image."
"Employers have a clear legal duty to accommodate the religious practices of their workers," said CAIR-OK Executive Director Razi Hashmi. "To deny someone employment because of apparent religious bias goes against long-standing American traditions of tolerance and inclusion."
Hashmi noted that Abercrombie & Fitch's corporate "Code of Business Conduct and Ethics" states: "The Company will adhere to its employment policies of non-discrimination as it relates to race, color, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation or handicap and will ensure compliance with all legal and other regulations governing employment."
In a letter to Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Michael Jefferies, CAIR-OK asked the company to 1) offer the Muslim applicant a formal apology, 2) clarify the company's policy on religious accommodation, and 3) institute workplace sensitivity and diversity training.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals because of their religion in hiring, firing, and other terms and conditions of employment. The act also requires employers to reasonably accommodate the religious practices of an employee, unless doing so would create an "undue hardship" for the employer.
The EEOC, or U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, recently issued new guidelines on accommodating religious beliefs and practices in the workplace. EEOC officials say the number of religious discrimination complaints has more than doubled in the last 15 years. The new guidelines offer protection for workers who wear religious attire such as the hijab.
SEE: New Religious Discrimination Manual Released
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties group and has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, protect civil liberties, and empower American Muslims.
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CONTACT: CAIR-OK Executive Director Razi Hashmi, 405-415-6851 or 405-248-5853, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: email@example.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org