Like so many popular kids, notoriously bigoted retailer Abercrombie & Fitch seems unable to distance itself from its reputation: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today in favor of Samantha Elauf, a Muslim woman who applied for a job at an Abercrombie Kids in Oklahoma in 2008, where she made the “mistake” of wearing a religious headscarf to her job interview.
A hiring manager refused to hire Elauf, then 17, because her headscarf violated the company’s “look policy,” a rigorous dress code intended to promote the brand’s “East Coast collegiate image.” As Yahoo News explains, Elauf did not tell her interviewer that she was Muslim, but this person “at least suspected” her religion and therefore didn’t hire her. According to Reuters, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) won a 8-1 victory on Elauf’s behalf.
Abercrombie & Fitch ended its policy of hiring based on attractiveness just this April. The company also did away with overtly looks-based standards from calling employees “models” to measuring their fingernail lengths and a strategy now-retired CEO Mike Jeffries referred to as candidly going after the “cool kids.”
As the Washington Post reported, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor pointed out that the Elauf’s employment discrimination case was unique in that the hiring manager who interviewed her openly admitted to lowering her score when he learned that her hijab violated the look policy.
Elauf stated, “I am not only standing up for myself, but for all people who wish to adhere to their faith while at work. Observance of my faith should not prevent me from getting a job.”