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Total Articles: 15

U.S. Supreme Court Sides With EEOC in Abercrombie Headscarf Case

The U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, reversing a Tenth Circuit win for the retailer in a religious discrimination case brought by a Muslim applicant who was denied employment due to her headscarf being a violation of Abercrombie’s dress policy – which prohibited caps of any kind. The Tenth Circuit had ruled in favor of Abercrombie, holding that Abercrombie could not be liable as a matter of law for discriminating against the applicant because Abercrombie did not have “actual knowledge” that the applicant needed an accommodation for her religious practice. Reversing the Tenth Circuit’s ruling, the United States Supreme Court (in an opinion authored by Justice Scalia) held that a plaintiff suing for religious discrimination need not show that the employer was expressly informed of the need for religious accommodation. Instead, the plaintiff need only show that the desire to avoid accommodating the employee was a “motivating factor” in the employment decision. Some understanding of the factual backdrop of the case is helpful to understanding the Court’s ruling.

OMG! Panic over the Supreme Court’s decision on religious discrimination.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on June 1, 2015, in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc. (FEP Cases 157) has resulted in a deluge of case summaries and commentaries, and engendered some level of panic among employers, who believe that the case has created a seismic shift in hiring criteria. But has it, really?

Supreme Court Finds Employer's Lack of "Actual Knowledge" of Need for Accommodation No Defense to Religious Discrimination Claim

Executive Summary: The U.S. Supreme Court recently held that an employer cannot escape liability for religious discrimination under Title VII by arguing that it did not have actual knowledge of an individual's need for a religious accommodation. Reversing the Tenth Circuit's decision in favor of the employer, in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., the Court held that an employer "may not make an applicant's religious practice, confirmed or otherwise, a factor in employment decisions."

Supreme Court’s Abercrombie Decision a Wake-Up Call on Religious Accommodation

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision this week that an employer may not make an applicant’s religious practice a factor in employment decisions, even if the employer does not have actual knowledge that the practice was religious in nature, gives employers plenty to think about in terms of their hiring and business practices. Employers are now faced with a new set of questions on how to ensure they do not run afoul of this decision.

eLABORate: Ignorance Is Not Bliss: Actual Knowledge of Need for Religious Accommodation Not Required in Title VII Claim

In EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., No. 14-86 (June 1, 2015), the United States Supreme Court held that an employer may be liable under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000, et seq., for failing to accommodate a religious practice even if the employee or job applicant fails to provide the employer with actual knowledge of the need for a religious accommodation. In 2008, Samantha Elauf, a practicing Muslim, applied for a position at an Abercrombie & Fitch (“Abercrombie”) store. She was subsequently interviewed by Heather Cooke, the store’s assistant manager. As part of her religious practice, Elauf wears a headscarf (or hijab), and she did so in her interview. During the interview, Elauf and Cooke made no mention of the headscarf, nor did Elauf indicate that she would need any religious accommodation.

What Matters is Motive: Religious Accommodation Need as a "Motivating Factor" in Employment Decisions

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc.1 resulted in an expected outcome but provided an unexpectedly small amount of practical guidance for employers.

Supreme Court Rules Against Abercrombie & Fitch in Religious Bias Case

In EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch, the Supreme Court has ruled that a Muslim woman can move forward with her religious discrimination lawsuit against Abercrombie under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The woman wears a hijab and claims that the clothing retailer illegally rejected her for a sales associate job because the head covering she wears violated its appearance policy.

High Court: Applicant Need Not Specifically Request Religious Accommodation To Maintain Title VII Claim

On June 1, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an applicant rejected for a retail store position by Abercrombie & Fitch because she wore a headscarf could maintain a Title VII claim against the retailer, even though she never specifically asked to be allowed to wear her headscarf as a religious accommodation. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc. (June 1, 2015)

Supreme Court Rules Against Abercrombie In Case Of Religious Accommodation

In an 8–1 opinion authored by Justice Antonin Scalia, the U.S. Supreme Court held today that Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc. is liable for refusing to hire an applicant who wore a hijab for religious reasons despite the fact that she never informed Abercrombie why she was wearing the headscarf. The decision increases the burden on employers to ensure they accommodate the religious beliefs of all applicants and employees. EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch

Supreme Court Rules Employer’s Motive (Not Knowledge) Decides Disparate-Treatment Claims

On June 1, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States decided whether an employer’s obligations under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are triggered only when an applicant has informed the employer of his or her need for an accommodation of a religious practice. In an 8-to-1 decision, the Court ruled that an applicant with a disparate-treatment claim is not required to show that an employer had knowledge of his or her need for an accommodation. Instead, the applicant need only show that the need for an accommodation was a motivating factor in the employer’s decision. In an opinion delivered by Justice Scalia, the Court stated that “the rule for disparate-treatment claims based on a failure to accommodate a religious practice is straightforward: An employer may not make an applicant’s religious practice, confirmed or otherwise, a factor in employment decisions.” Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., No. 14–86, Supreme Court of the United States (June 1, 2015).

"Clean-Shaven" Policy May Not Be So Clean

Religious dress and grooming practices became news late last year when popular clothing store Hollister fired a Muslim employee for wearing a hijab, an Islamic religious headscarf. Initially, the employee was asked to wear headscarves in Hollister colors which she did. After several months, a district manager was in the store and did not like the scarf. The employee was told the headscarf violated the company dress code and she would be removed from the schedule if she did not stop wearing it. When she did not comply she was fired. The District Court agreed with the employee and the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, that the termination violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Religious Garb And Grooming Practices In The Workplace: FAQs By The EEOC

An article entitled “Religious Garb and Grooming Practices in the Workplace: FAQs by the EEOC,” by Partner Jeff Weintraub and Paralegal Jennifer Riley was published in HR Professionals magazine.

EEOC Posts Technical Assistance on Religious Dress and Grooming in the Workplace

Religious discrimination charges filed with the EEOC have increased over the years, rising to 3,721 private sector discrimination charges in fiscal year 2013. An EEOC religious discrimination charge resulted in the United States Justice Department filing a lawsuit on March 5, 2014 against the School District of Philadelphia in which it claimed the school district’s grooming policy failed to accommodate the religious beliefs of a school police officer.

EEOC Lawsuit Over Dreadlocks Sparks Criticism and Highlights Issues with Workplace Grooming Policies

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) recently filed suit against Catastrophe Management Solutions, a Mobile, Alabama based insurance claims company, alleging the company violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by discriminating against an African-American job applicant on the basis of race because she wore dreadlocks. (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Catastrophe Management Solutions, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:13-cv-00476-CB-M) The lawsuit highlights the employment issues that can arise over workplace grooming policies, and also has sparked sharp criticism from the business community.

Turbans, Veils and Head Scarves: How to Handle Religious Dress in Restaurants and Hotels

Your food and beverage outlet’s uniform appearance policy requires, among other things, a standard uniform, no facial hair, no visible piercings (other than earrings), no visible tattoos, and no hats or head coverings. A female server begins wearing a head scarf to work and informs you she is doing so because she wants to be more religious. You are concerned about consistent enforcement of the appearance policy and about the reactions of customers and co-workers. You want to say no and stick to the policy. What to do?
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