Ex-Abercrombie & Fitch Employee Wins Legal Battle of Firing for Hijab
Hani Khan is a Muslim woman who was terminated from her employment at a Hollister outlet (which are owned by Abercrombie & Fitch) back in 2010 for her refusal to desist from wearing a hijab as required in her religion. At the time, Khan filed a complaint for wrongful termination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) which agreed with her and initiated a lawsuit against Hollister’s parent company Abercrombie & Fitch in 2011.
Khan finally had her day in court this week and Judge Yavonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled against Hollister’s parent company because the singular choice to remove the head scarf or face termination displayed malice or indifference with regards to the consequences. A court date will now be scheduled for later this month to determine the money damage that Khan is entitled to as a result of her termination.
“Reasonable jurors could determine that by offering Khan one option — to remove her hijab despite her religious beliefs — Abercrombie acted with malice, reckless indifference or in the face of a perceived risk that its actions violated federal law,” the judgment reads.
“Abercrombie must provide more than generalized subjective beliefs or assumptions that deviations from the Look Policy negatively affect the sales or the brand,” the judgment reads. “The evidence presented does not raise a triable issue that a hardship, much less an undue hardship, would have resulted from allowing Khan to wear her hijab.”
Attorneys for Abercrombie had argued that the hijab would adversely affect the store’s image and ultimately retail sales. However, Khan’s attorneys were able to show that she had worked at the store for four months wearing the hijab without incident. Ultimately, a visiting district manager took issue with Khan and unilaterally determined the hijab violated the company’s “look” policy.
An Abercrombie spokesman wrote in an e-mail statement to eCanadaNow that it’s company policy not to comment on pending litigation.
“Abercrombie & Fitch does not discriminate based on religion and we grant religious accommodations when reasonable,” the statement reads.
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Ex-Abercrombie Employee Scores Legal