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Abercrombie & Fitch settles head scarf case

Abercrombie & Fitch settles head scarf case

Retailer Abercrombie & Fitch Stores Inc. has agreed to pay $44,673 to settle the long-running litigation over a job applicant wearing a Muslim head covering, which led to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Monday that the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver dismissed New Albany, Ohio-based Abercrombie's appeal of EEOC's case against the company, EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch, because of the settlement. The EEOC said the company paid $25,670 in damages to practicing Muslim Samantha Elauf, on whose behalf the case was brought, and $18,983 in court costs.

The case had its origin in 2008, when then-17-year old Ms. Elauf was not hired as sales clerk at Abercrombie & Fitch's Tulsa, Oklahoma store allegedly because she wore a hijab, and it would have violated the retailer's “look policy” against wearing “caps.”

Ms. Elauf, however, never informed interviewers that she was obligated by her religion to wear the headscarf, and the interviewers never questioned her about her religious beliefs, although an interviewer had discussed the potential religious issue with the district manager, according to last month's 8-1 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case.

In its ruling, the high court held that employers must consider whether a job applicant needs an accommodation based on religious needs, even if the applicant does not mention the subject.

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