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Judge Rules Abercrombie Violated Law in Firing Hijab Wearing Employee
Hani Khan was an employee at Abercrombie & Fitch’s store Hollister when she wore the traditional Islamic hijab to work. She was then fired when she refused to take off her hijab. Judge Yavonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled in Hani Khan’s favor against Abercrombie. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Abercrombie on behalf of Khan, according to the Huffington Post. Khan claimed that the company fired her for her decision to wear the “religiously-mandated” headscarf.
The judgment says that the jurors made the decision that “Abercrombie acted with malice, reckless indifference or in the face of a perceived risk that its actions violated federal law.” The jurors understood that only one option was available to Hani Khan, which was to “remove her hijab despite her religious beliefs.” At the end of September it will be determined in a trial what amount Abercrombie will settle for. No comment has been given, and a spokesman for Abercrombie emailed, “its company policy not to comment on pending litigation.” The statement went on to say that Abercrombie & Fitch does not religiously discriminate and they offer reasonable religious accommodations.
The judge denied that Abercrombie would undergo “undue hardship” in accommodating Mrs. Khan’s hijab. A district manager visited the store and decided that the hijab didn’t fit in with the “look policy,” a fashion code that all employees would have to adhere to in the Hollister store. Some criticize the policy and say that it takes fashion engineering too far into micromanaging employees’ clothes.
The judgment assesses that in fact Abercrombie has not provided evidence that deviating from its “look” policy will negatively affect sales, or that allowing Hani Khan to wear her hijab would have at all materially impacted sales. Judge and jurors were in favor of Hani Khan, and the young woman will see a settlement due to her by the end of this month.