Abercrombie Illegally Fired Muslim Teen For Wearing Head Scarf, Judge Rules

It's just the latest slap to the retailer over its "Look Policy."

Abercrombie & Fitch Loses Discrimination Suit

The Muslim teen worker who scored a legal victory in an anti-discrimination suit against Abercrombie & Fitch, which cited its dress code in insisting she not wear a hijab to work, says the retailer's policy is "very unfair."

A federal judge issued the ruling last week that Abercrombie & Fitch discriminated against Hani Khan, 18, when she was fired from its Hollister store in San Mateo, Calif., in 2010 because she refused to remove her head scarf on the job.

Khan says she was approached by her manager after four months on the job. "She expressed concern about my hijab," Khan told ABC News. "That's when I felt like it was not appropriate, what they were saying."

After refusing to remove the hijab while at work, she was terminated. The company offered her the job back 11 days later as long as she did not wear the hijab, but she declined the offer, according to court documents.

"They just don't feel like it fits in with their 'Look Policy,' which I feel is very unfair," Khan said.

The "Look Policy" includes a grooming guidebook for employees outlining everything from what they should wear to how they should style their hair while on the job, according to court documents.

In court, the trendy clothing retailer argued that the hijab, worn by Muslim women as a sign of modesty, would negatively affect sales. But the judge said in writing "Abercrombie failed to offer any evidence from those four months showing a decline in sales."

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit on Khan's behalf in 2011. A trial on the company's liability and punitive damages is scheduled for Sept. 30.

"Abercrombie & Fitch does not discriminate based on religion and we grant religious accommodations when reasonable," a company representative told ABC News in a statement after the ruling.

It's not the first time the company has made headlines or headed to court over image-related issues. Protesters gathered outside stores earlier this year after an interview Abercrombie's CEO Mike Jeffries gave in 2006 resurfaced on social media.

In the interview, Jeffries said the company's clothing was marketed toward "cool, good-looking people. We don't market to anyone other than that."

He later said he regretted the comments.

The company settled a class-action lawsuit for $50 million in 2004 after allegations of discriminatory recruitment and hiring practices. It admitted no wrongdoing.

Khan hopes her lawsuit will lead to policy changes at Abercrombie & Fitch.

"I really hope that they look into their policies and practices," she said, "and they're able to reflect some changes."

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anrean

Lesson for ALL employers - don't hire if you don't like what you see during the interview
Lesson for ALL employees - be honest from the start.

September 16 2013 at 1:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kate

Good! I\'m glad they lost, because that was clearly discrimination, and nobody looking at a woman wearing a hijab would think anything other than that she was following her religion. It has nothing to do with Abercrombie at all, or anything they sell or their precious \'image.\'

September 16 2013 at 12:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
nkowalak

Miley Syrus should wear a Muslim outfit! Good cover-up for bad hair days! Does anyone remember Ethel Merman? She always had some kind of fancy head dress and that was YEARS ago! Love the last notice above "Abercrombie & fitch loses ruling over Muslim GARB! That ought to cost them another 50 million!

September 15 2013 at 11:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
lester

HELL BACK IN MY YOUNGER DAYS I THOUGHT CLOTHES FROM KMART AND WOOLWORTHS WAS COOL AS WELL AS SEARS.GIVE ME A PAIR OF $10.00 TENNIS SHOES AND SOME LEVIS AND IM HAPPY

September 15 2013 at 11:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Apple

Aracrombie....deserves what they get they have a crappy attitude which is exclusive rather than inclusive!

September 15 2013 at 9:58 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
mindyirus

Their clothes are a bunch of crap made in sweat shops by slave labor. They are just trying to sell an image to foolish teenagers who think they will be cool if they wear a & f clothes . The clothes are probably made in the same factories that make walmart clothes. They just stick the different labels on.

September 15 2013 at 7:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
cindy

I really cannot see why ANYONE would want to do business with this retailer. The bigger picture is that they hired her and for 4 months, her head gear was acceptable. Why all of the sudden a change? This company should be boycotted and then lets see how impressive their clothes are when they can't sell them. Then stocks fall through the floor and investors get P!$$#D. They are overpriced and over-hyped! Give 'em the boot!

September 15 2013 at 4:03 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to cindy's comment
d1anaw

I cannot see why anyone would want to do business with them either. But they don't seem to care how many people turn against them. And they probably won't until they cannot get any financing to keep afloat.

September 15 2013 at 6:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
donnaread50

She was hired wearing a hajib. The lawsuit is valid as a discrimination issue. However, the fault lies with the person who hired her. It should have been explained that her hajib was considered inappropriate according to the company dress code and she could have made a decision about accepting the job. The point about companies and government offices being able to set strict dress codes is a valid one but these rules should be discussed before a person is hired.

One of the things that made me laugh is how A&F shoots themselves in the foot so often! Here they had a clear opportunity to raise sales and they chose to ignore it! If a young Muslim woman wearing a hajib is working in a store, then more young Muslim women will want to shop there. Simple. And the argument 'if she can wear headgear, why can't I?' would be so easy to reconcile by pointing out that it's a requirement of her ethnicity.

Well done A&F! Not only did you miss the opportunity to raise sales, you lost money in the process. Seems to be your modus operendi.

September 15 2013 at 4:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lisa

The company has a policy that prevents head gear of any kind. Would they do this same thing to a NUN ? Bottom line is they do own the company and should be able to set their own dress code as any other company does. Many require uniforms, are a particular color of clothing to be worn, Medical places restrict all jewelry, Government jobs restrict any religious symbols (Crosses) that are visible, restaurants restrict shoe types. I am not saying it is right or wrong but it is practiced all over this nation that a company tells the employees what they can and can not wear at work.

September 15 2013 at 12:11 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Lisa's comment
CherMoeLin

Yep, corporations can even fire women for getting pregnant and also limit their health insurance and prevent them from birth control, etc.. even if they want to pay for that type of coverage themselves. Corporations have taken over this country like a deathly virus.

September 15 2013 at 11:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kate

It\'s certainly true that many different fields have dress codes. But none of them are allowed to discriminate, and there have been other lawsuits based on similar circumstances which the plaintiff also won. You may have heard about the British airline employee who won the right to wear her cross as a crew member.

Actually, I find the wearing of a hijab to be more of an important religious item than a cross or star of David or other symbol; the Muslim religion requires women to cover their hair. The Christian and Jewish religions do not require their members to wear jewelry symbols of their faith.

I suspect the reason the person who did the hiring did not tell her she could not wear her hijab and work there is that they knew quite well that would be illegal. Later, they tried to force her, only they misjudged her: she was not the type to take it lying down.

September 16 2013 at 12:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
drb107

Hey Abercrombie you are a bigoted and racist company, its been proven with some of your T-shirts, but hey rich people can afford you so I guess its ok.

September 15 2013 at 11:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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