Abercrombie & Fitch — the same folks who have been fighting to keep the steps at the entrance to their Hollister stores — just lost a case in San Francisco to an employee who was asked to remove her hijab. From the press release of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR):
U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled that Abercrombie & Fitch violated federal and state civil rights laws against workplace discrimination when it fired Hani Khan in 2010 for refusing to remove her hijab. The lawsuit, which was filed by CAIR-SFBA, LAS-ELC and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), sought to vindicate Khan’s rights against religious discrimination in the workplace.
In her 25-page decision, Judge Gonzalez Rogers resoundingly rejected Abercrombie’s “undue burden” defense. The decision stated in part:
“Abercrombie only offers unsubstantiated opinion testimony of its own employees to support its claim of undue hardship. Abercrombie failed to proffer any evidence from those four months showing a decline in sales in the Hillsdale store; customer complaints or confusion; or brand damage linked to Khan’s wearing of a hijab.”
Congrats to CAIR’s San Francisco Bay Area office and the Legal Aid at Work (formerly Legal Aid Society Employment Law Center) for a job well done.