Much like your humble blogger, image is everything for teen retailer Abercrombie & Fitch. That may be problematic, however, as the U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed to hear an appeal addressing whether the Company’s enforcing its controversial employee dress code, or “look policy,” constituted religious discrimination.
In 2008, Samantha Elauf, a Muslim, applied for a job at an Abercrombie store in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She wore her hijab or headscarf during the interview. Abercrombie rates applicants on their sense of style (of course they do) and hiring manager, Heather Cooke, initially gave Elauf a score that recommended hiring her. However, after consulting with district manager Randall Johnson about the hijab, Cooke gave Elauf a low score in the “appearance and sense of style” category. (Johnson allegedly told Cooke that employees were not allowed to wear “hats” at work, and declined to hire her, even though Cooke told him that she assumed Elauf wore the scarf for religious reasons.) Cooke also told Johnson that she did not ask about religion during Elauf’s interview, in accordance with EEOC guidelines.