August 8, 2011

Abercrombie & Fitch dressed down over hijab in religious discrimination case

Posted in Discrimination, Religion tagged , , , , , at 10:27 am by Tom Jacobson

Inflexible dress codes can lead to religious discrimination.  That’s the hard lesson recently learned by clothing giant Abercrombie & Fitch.

The lesson was taught by U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Frizzell, the federal judge presiding over a lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after Abercrombie & Fitch refused to hire a teenage girl who is Muslim and who wore a hijab (the traditional religious head scarf).

The company argued that accommodating the girl’s beliefs by making an exception to its “Look Policy” would have imposed an undue hardship.  Judge Frizzell disagreed.  He concluded that the company had not demonstrated that it would sustain anything more than a minimal undue hardship.  As a result of Judge Frizzell’s ruling, the case will now proceed to a jury trial for a determination of any damages that Abercrombie & Fitch may have to pay.

The case is a reminder that is sometimes dress codes and religion intersect. Therefore, to avoid claims of religious discrimination, dress codes must be carefully drafted and flexibly applied.

For more information on this lawsuit, see Tulsa federal judge rules against Abercrombie & Fitch in lawsuit over hijab, or contact me at

The comments posted in this blog are for general informational purposes only. They are not to be considered as legal advice, and they do not establish an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice regarding your specific situation, please consult your attorney.

Copyright 2011 Swenson Lervick Syverson Trosvig Jacobson, PA


1 Comment »

  1. […] religious discrimination prohibitions of Title VII. The trial court ruled in favor of the EEOC (See Abercrombie & Fitch Dressed Down over Hijab in Religious Discrimination Case). The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed on the basis that because Elauf never provided […]

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