Supreme Court Rules Abercrombie & Fitch Discriminated Against Muslim Woman Over Hijab

Samantha Elauf
Samantha Elauf, a Muslim woman who was denied a sales job at an Abercrombie Kids store in Tulsa in 2008, won her case against the company on June 1, 2015. Jim Bourg/Reuters

The U.S. Supreme Court found that Abercrombie & Fitch discriminated against Samantha Elauf when she was denied a job at one of the company's children's stores in Oklahoma for wearing a hijab.

Elauf applied for a job at a Tulsa shop in 2008 and was denied, as the company found her hijab, a traditional headscarf worn by Muslim women, was in violation of its notoriously strict look policy, which prohibits wearing "caps."

The court was asked to determine if Elauf was required to ask for a religious accomodation for her headcovering in order to be able to sue the company. Elauf wore a headscarf to her interview but did not tell her interviewer that she wanted a religious accommodation.

The justices on Monday ruled 8-1 in favor of the young woman, with only Justice Clarence Thomas dissenting. The religious accommodation provision is part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which states that a person cannot be discriminated against while applying for a job based on religion.

"An employer may not make an applicant's religious practice, confirmed or otherwise, a factor in employment decisions," Justice Scalia wrote in the opinion.

This decision comes just a few weeks after the retailer issued an overhaul of its store policies, including the look policy. Under the new look policy, the dress code will not be as strict and hiring is supposed to be less "exclusionary."