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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Muslim Girl Wins Legal Battle Against Abercrombie & Fitch...



It's been settled. The long, three-year lawsuit by Samantha Elauf (represented by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), on the grounds of religious discrimination, against Abercrombie & Fitch, has been settled. In 2008, the then 17 year-old Muslim girl was denied a position at her nearest abercrombie kids store in Woodland Hills Mall in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Why was she turned down? Simply because her Hijab supposedly didn't go with the Look Policy - the image the store models are supposed to project. Store associates aren't supposed to wear headwear, and the Policy allows for aspiring associates to request an exception. But the point, I figure, is that you shouldn't have to "require an exception" when it comes to religious matters.

This is so not the first time Abercrombie & Fitch has been under legal tensions for discrimination. Oh, no. In fact, its history from the late-1990s and early-2000s is plastered with claims of discrimination on all levels. The 2003 ruling in the Gonzales v. Abercrombie & Fitch case - "[Abercrombie & Fitch] violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by maintaining recruiting and hiring practices that excluded minorities and women and adopting a restrictive marketing image, and other policies, which limited minority and female employment" - was a landmark that has reshaped the Company in modern day. Why else do you think the Company now places an emphasis on diversity in its work environment? In the case of Ms. Elauf (represented by the EEOC), I guess old habits never die - do they, Abercrombie?

Nevertheless, there seemed to be no malice in the part of the managers. As Deon Riley of human resources for Abercrombie & Fitch commented, there are too many managers to be properly trained for the most "touchy" issues. The hijab just didn't fit with what corporate laid out as the associate look, and the managers simply followed policy. Elauf, who battled till the end, was given $20,000 USD. "We've kind of watched her grow," mentioned Barbara Seely from EEOC, "And she deserves every dime of compensatory damages that she will be getting." Naturally, A&F declined to comment...who doesn't decline to comment when they've faced loss of face? hmm. On a final note, Elauf stated, "stand up for yourself, and don't let anyone tell you you're not good enough to work somewhere."

P.S. Last year, in our A&F Sued Over Religious Discrimination post, we highlighted a previous, similar incident.