In March, we blogged about a religious discrimination case that was scheduled for hearing at the U.S. Supreme Court level. The Supreme Court rendered its decision on June 1, with the judges almost in unanimous agreement — eight to one.
Abercrombie & Fitch refused to hire Samantha Elauf because she wore a headscarf during her job interview, which the company said was in violation of its dress code, which called for a “classic East Coast collegiate style.” They argued she had not stated her headscarf was based on her religious practice.
The New York Times quoted Justice Antonin Scalia as saying that reaching a decision was very easy. This proved to be true because the only dissenting justice was Justice Clarence Thomas.
The Supreme Court remanded the case to the lower court for trial. The court based its reasoning on the fact that the company certainly had to suspect the applicant’s reasons for wearing a headscarf were due to religious practice. Justice Scalia stated that based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Ms. Elauf did not have to specifically ask for religious accommodation. The Act entitled her to freedom from religious discrimination, and clearly, the company decided not to hire her based on her religious practices. Justice Scalia said, “Title VII forbids adverse employment decisions made with a forbidden motive, whether this motive derives from actual knowledge, a well-founded suspicion or merely a hunch.”
Employers should take note and apply this fact to their hiring practices.
If you own a business and have discrimination or other employment issues, Stephen Hans & Associates can assist you. We bring decades of experience to the table whether litigating or resolving cases through negotiated settlement.