Press Releases

Civil Rights Groups to React to Supreme Court Arguments on Abercrombie & Fitch Hijab Case

SCOTUS(WASHINGTON, D.C., 2/24/15) – On Wednesday, February 25, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) will join other national civil rights and advocacy organizations at a news conference outside the U.S. Supreme Court to offer reaction to oral arguments in EEOC v Abercrombie & Fitch.

WHAT: News Conference to React to Oral Arguments in EEOC v Abercrombie & Fitch
WHEN: Wednesday, February 25, 11:30 a.m.
WHERE: Main Steps Outside the U.S. Supreme Court, 1 First Street N.E., Washington, D.C.
CONTACT: CAIR Communications Manager Amina Rubin, 202-341-4171, arubin@cair.com

The court is considering whether the clothing retailer's refusal to hire a Muslim woman wearing a religious headscarf (hijab) was discriminatory. CAIR filed an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief in the case.

SEE: CAIR Files U.S. Supreme Court Brief on Abercrombie & Fitch Hijab Case
Read CAIR's Amicus Brief

At issue is whether an employer can be liable under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for refusing to hire an applicant or discharging an employee based on a “religious observance and practice” only if the employer has actual knowledge that a religious accommodation was required and the employer's actual knowledge resulted from direct, explicit notice from the applicant or employee.

SEE: Muslim's Case Takes 'Look' at Abercrombie & Fitch Policy (USA Today)
This Supreme Court Case Unites Religions Against Abercrombie & Fitch (Bloomberg)

If the court rules in favor of Abercrombie, there will be widespread negative implications for American Muslim applicants and employees of other religions who outwardly manifest their faith through religious practice or grooming such as the hijab or beard. Not only will they have to know what rights are afforded to them under federal law, they will also be required to affirmatively assert those rights even when they are not aware that a potential workplace conflict exists.

“We believe the court should reject the explicit notice rule because it places unreasonable burdens on individual job candidates and employees who outwardly display their religion through dress and grooming practices,” said CAIR Civil Rights Litigation Director Jenifer Wicks. “Contrary to the underlying assumption upon which the explicit notice rule rests, it is employers, rather than potential employees, who are intimately familiar with their own workplaces and policies, and therefore are often better able to predict a need for a dress or grooming-based religious accommodation.”

She said the explicit notice rule would actually operate counter to the purpose of Title VII by permitting discrimination.

Wicks noted that 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 Civil Rights Litigation Director Jenifer Wicks, 202-488-8787, jwicks@cair.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, ihooper@cair.com; CAIR Communications Manager Amina Rubin, 202-341-4171, arubin@cair.com

 

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