The US Supreme Court recently decided to take up a racial discrimination case brought by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F).
Apparently, in 2008 A&F refused to hire a Muslim woman because she was wearing a headscarf. The job applicant was given a low score for ‘appearance and sense of style’ and was therefore unable to join A&F as a ‘model’, given that company guidelines do not allow staff to wear ‘hats’ at work. The woman in question had not specified that she was wearing a headscarf for religious reasons, so no exception to the rule was made in her favour.
The EEOC believes that the applicant qualifies for an exemption from A&F’s ‘look policy’ on the grounds of her religious beliefs, even though she did not specifically request a religious exemption in the interview process.
This is not the first time for A&F to be sued for racial discrimination. Back in 2005, the EEOC took A&F to court for declining to hire minorities who did not fit Abercrombie’s ‘all-American look’. The lawsuit was settled with A&F being ordered to pay $40 million.
In May this year, A&F announced a change of course away from semi-nude male models. Perhaps modifying the ‘look policy’ will help reduce the accusations of racial discrimination.