An Obama-appointed federal judge has handed the administration a major victory, ruling that a Muslim woman’s civil rights were violated by an American clothing retailer that didn’t allow her to wear a head scarf as required by her religion.
The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency that enforces the nation’s workplace discrimination laws. In 2011 the agency sued the retail giant, Abercrombie & Fitch, accusing it of religious discrimination for firing 19-year-old Umme-Hani Khan for wearing a hijab at a northern California store. The company, which focuses on hip casual wear for consumers aged 18 to 22, has a policy against head covers of any kind for its employees.
In the case of this Muslim woman it amounts to discrimination based on religion, according to the EEOC, and that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Employers are required to accommodate the sincere religious beliefs or practices of employees, the agency says, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on business.