(SANTA CLARA, CA, 2/24/10) – The San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SFBA) announced today that it has filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaint against Abercrombie & Fitch on behalf of a Muslim employee who was allegedly fired because she refused to remove her Islamic head scarf, or hijab.
The Muslim employee reported to CAIR-SFBA that she was hired as a stockroom worker in October of last year at the Hollister outlet in San Mateo, Calif. She says she was told at that time that she could wear her scarf if it was in a color that matched the company’s brand identity.
[Hollister Co. is a division of Abercrombie & Fitch. Ohio-based Abercrombie & Fitch operates more than 1100 stores worldwide.]
Recently, a district manager visited the store and noticed that the Muslim employee was wearing a head scarf. The district manager then reportedly initiated a conference call with the company’s human resources department during which the Muslim worker was told that scarves and hats are not allowed in the “look” policy. Despite informing company managers that she wears her scarf for religious reasons, the Muslim employee was sent home immediately.
This week, she was told she must remove her scarf during work hours. When she refused to violate her religious beliefs by removing her scarf in public, she was fired.
“This unconscionable and apparently illegal action by company managers violates not only federal civil rights law as it relates to religious accommodation in the workplace, but also violates Abercrombie & Fitch’s own stated commitments to diversity, inclusion and ethical business practices,” said CAIR-SFBA Programs and Outreach Director Zahra Billoo. “We urge Abercrombie & Fitch customers who value diversity and inclusion to contact the company to express their concerns about this violation of religious freedom.”
She said 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.
In 2008, the EEOC issued new guidelines on accommodating religious beliefs and practices in the workplace. The guidelines offer protection for workers who wear religious attire such as hijab.
Billoo said CAIR’s Oklahoma chapter filed a similar complaint against Abercrombie & Fitch in 2008 on behalf of a Muslim applicant in that state who was denied a job because of her hijab. In September of 2009, the EEOC filed a discrimination suit against the company on behalf of the Muslim applicant.
SEE: Teen Accuses Clothing Store Of Discrimination (Video)
Abercrombie & Fitch Sued by EEOC for Religious Discrimination Against Muslim Teen Applicant
Abercrombie & Fitch’s position on “Diversity & Inclusion” states:
“…we are committed to increasing and leveraging the diversity of our associates and management across the organization. Those differences will be supported by a culture of inclusion, so that we better understand our customers, enhance our organizational effectiveness, capitalize on the talents of our workforce and represent the communities in which we do business.”
Its 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.”
CAIR offers a booklet called “An Employer’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices” to help corporate managers gain a better understanding of Islam and Muslims.
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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CONTACT: CAIR-SFBA Programs and Outreach Director Zahra Billoo, 626-252-0885, E-Mail: email@example.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, E-Mail: email@example.com