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CAIR, LAS-ELC, EEOC to Announce Settlement in Abercrombie & Fitch Hijab Lawsuits

abercrombie-logoEmbattled retailer to make changes to 'look policy' after religious discrimination ruling

(SAN FRANCISCO, CA, September 20, 2013) — On Monday, September 23, the San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SFBA), the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center (LAS-ELC) and the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will hold a news conference in San Francisco to announce a settlement resolving a 2011 lawsuit against Abercrombie & Fitch for firing a Muslim employee who refused to remove her religious headscarf, or hijab, and a 2010 lawsuit against Abercrombie & Fitch for refusing to hire a Muslim applicant because she wore a headscarf.

WHAT: News conference announcing settlement of two religious discrimination lawsuits against Abercrombie & Fitch, and resulting company policy changes
WHEN: Monday, September 23, 10 a.m. PST
WHERE: LAS-ELC's Office, 180 Montgomery Street, Suite 600, San Francisco, Calif.
WHO: Hani Khan, a San Mateo, Calif., Muslim woman who was terminated from her work at a Hollister Co. location in 2010, and attorneys from CAIR-SFBA, LAS-ELC, EEOC
CONTACT: Zahra Billoo, CAIR-SFBA, 626.252.0885, zbilloo@cair.com
Sara Feldman, LAS-ELC, 415.593.0071, sfeldman@las-elc.org
Marcia Mitchell, EEOC, 415. 625.5651, marcia.mitchell@eeoc.gov

Khan worked for Hollister Co., a brand of Abercrombie & Fitch, from October 2009 to February 2010 while wearing a hijab. She was terminated from her position as a stockroom employee after refusing to remove her headscarf. At the time, she was told that her headscarf, though worn because of a religious belief, was not in compliance with the company's “Look Policy.”

CAIR-SFBA and LAS-ELC joined the EEOC's lawsuit against Abercrombie & Fitch on Khan's behalf. Trial was scheduled to begin on September 30. However, after over three years of litigation, the company agreed to settle the case along with another lawsuit brought by the EEOC on behalf of an Abercrombie & Fitch applicant, Halla Banafa, who was not hired because of her headscarf. Abercrombie's agreement to change their “Look Policy” follows a recent ruling by District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers finding the company liable in Khan's case for religious discrimination under federal and state law and an earlier ruling by District Court Judge Edward Davila dismissing several of Abercrombie's defenses in Banafa's case.

About CAIR-SFBA: The San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is the nation's oldest chapter of CAIR, 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. Celebrating its 19th anniversary in 2013, each year CAIR provides legal advice, assistance, and representation to thousands of American Muslims alleging religious discrimination and harassment.

About LAS-ELC: The Legal Aid Society of San Francisco-Employment Law Center, founded in 1916, is a non-profit public interest law firm committed to protecting the rights and economic self-sufficiency of low-income and disadvantaged workers and their families. LAS-ELC has for decades litigated on issues of racial equality; gender equity, immigration and national origin discrimination, and disability rights. Aside from its impact litigation, the LAS-ELC conducts public education and legislative advocacy, provides technical assistance to other advocacy groups, and undertakes direct legal representation in specific cases.

About EEOC: The EEOC enforces federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. The EEOC has the authority to investigate charges of discrimination against employers who are covered by the law and has the authority to file a lawsuit to protect the rights of individuals and the interests of the public. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.

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