No Hijab On The Job? Abercrombie & Fitch Sued Over Alleged Discrimination Against Muslim Woman

Hani Khan, a former stockroom worker for Abercrombie & Fitch Co., has sued the clothing retailer for allegedly firing her for refusing to remove her Muslim headscarf or hijab while on the job.


While she was hired wearing a hijab, she was fired four months later after she said she was told to remove it. The 20-year-old woman says it is part of the company’s “look policy.”

As a threshold matter, I fail to see why the store would not want women to wear hijabs. Whatever “look” it is going for, I assume a significant number of its customers are Muslim and such diversity would help, not hurt, business. It also denies these women the full opportunity to work. I personally think that is a terrible policy.

We have previously discussed the right of businesses to insist on certain looks connected to their corporate image from Hooters to television anchors to other businesses (here and here). What if Abercrombie simply did not want religious displays of any kind from crosses to hijabs? Should a company be allowed to create look policies that advance its corporate interests so long as it does not involve racial discrimination? Some businesses like Victoria’s Secret may only want to hire women while others may want younger salespersons. Abercrombie could be sensitive to some women who view hijab as sexist, as they do in France. I do not agree with that view but should a company be allowed to insist on compliance with such “look policies”? What do you think?

Source: SF Chronicle

19 thoughts on “No Hijab On The Job? Abercrombie & Fitch Sued Over Alleged Discrimination Against Muslim Woman”

  1. Obviously, you’re nuts.

    Otherwise, I think companies are perfectly entitled to enforce dress codes. Lawyers wearing baggy pants to an interview would probably not get hired, wearing hats is not acceptable in many places, and many businesses even have set uniforms.

    I can also understand some places wanting to restrict activism, including excessive religious displays (which does not seem to have been the case here). However, this is very difficult to judge, and is neighbor to discrimination – which seems to the very heart of the case here.

  2. USING THE “CAPS-LOCK” AGAINST US

    OR “PRETENDING” TO BE “RELEVANT”

  3. From the linked article it would appear that her initial conditions of employment (which she was willing to comply with) were changed. A policy that did make reasonable accommodations for her religion was changed to an exclusionary policy. The regional manager that made that decision is going to cost the company some money.

  4. Hell, if an employer can demand that you not smoke or drink while you are home and off the clock, this is a trifle. They most certainly change the dress code any time they want to. It only becomes discrimination if others do not have the same dress code. In fact, granting her the right to wear the hijab and NOT others, would be a violation of the other employees rights.

  5. as an EEO employer, don’t they have an obligation to make reasonable accommodations to employees’ religious beliefs?….seems like a modest accommodation (it’s not like she wore the full-on burqa)

    Also, from their standpoint, how did they feel they could get away with firing her over the hijab, after hiring her while she was wearing one, then waiting 4 months later to bring up that it violated “the look” (all-american, slutty, beachy look i assume)

  6. It is not discrimination since ALL employees cannot wear head scarfs, and it is the perogative of employers to require types of dress and uniforms if they so choose.

  7. Elaine–
    White
    Under 30
    Thin
    Pretty
    Well-to-do

    You know – ‘classic American’ – wink wink

  8. SNIFFING FOR LAWSUITS- IS ONE THING THAT SLOWS THE REAL WHEELS OF JUSTICE

    TERRORISM- USING OUR OWN “WAY OF LIFE” AGAINST US~

    OR “PRETENDING” TO- TO GAIN “CONTROL”

  9. WELL SAID FRANK~

    ISN’T “ALL” RETAIL ABOUT A “LOOK” “MARKETING” OR BLURRING OF THE “REALITY” FAST FOOD COMMERCIALS- EVERYONE IN THEM IS “THIN”-

  10. For consciousness expansion, try thinking about a company insisting that American Christian women work topless. See? It’s unacceptable.

  11. From the SF Chronicle article:
    “Abercrombie prides itself on requiring what it calls ‘a natural, classic American style,’ ” said Araceli Martinez-Olguin, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center, which is representing Khan. “But there is nothing American about discriminating against someone because of their religion.”

    Can someone tell me what a “natural classic American style is?”

    Would it be dressing up like Laura Ingalls Wilder?

  12. I cannot imagine a good Muslim woman wanting to work for such an immodest retailer. The truth is all these types of stores, Aero, AF, AE, Hollister and all their dreadful clones discriminate in hiring every day. You have to have ‘the look’ in order to work there. The mildly over weight, the slightly less than ‘pretty’, those with physical deformities or handicaps can be assured they will not be hired. You can see this by going into the stores a few times.

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