Shoulder to Shoulder Responds to Abercrombie & Fitch “Hijab Case” Before the Supreme Court
Contact: Samantha Friedman, West End Strategy Team, Samantha@westendstrategy.com, (202) 215-9260
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In advance of oral arguments made in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., Shoulder to Shoulder, an interfaith coalition combating anti-Muslim sentiment, issued the following statement:
“The Abercrombie and Fitch case, in which a teenage applicant was turned down for a job on the basis of her hijab, brings up profound concerns surrounding the actual equality of employment opportunity for persons of various faiths,” said Catherine Orsborn, Program Director of Shoulder to Shoulder. “We concur with the concerns raised by this Religious Liberty Amici Curiae, which is signed by a diverse array of religious and civil liberties organizations. The Court should side with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and protect religious liberty for all job applicants.
“In this particular case, a heavy burden was placed on the Muslim applicant to disclose and explain her faith to her potential employer. This burden is not in line with our country’s commitment to equality and religious freedom. This country has laws regarding religious accommodation in the workplace, in keeping with our broader commitment to celebration of religious expression and diversity. This is to protect freedom of religion for all, and no one faith should ever be singled out in granting accommodations. Religious communities must stand in solidarity against selective discrimination; a solidarity we see in the number of religious groups united on this case.
“Additionally, we are particularly concerned with the idea put forth that a Muslim woman does not fit in with Abercrombie’s “Look Policy,” branded, essentially, as Ivy League casual chic. While the store asserts that this policy is religion-neutral, it is clear that the decision not to hire a Muslim woman because of her hijab excludes certain expressions of religion from this “Look.”
“This case is not just about one clothing company and a question of hiring discrimination. It is part of a broader trend of discrimination in hiring when it comes to Muslims, and particularly to Muslim women, in this country. A recent USA Today article demonstrates the way in which Muslims face high levels of employment discrimination, at times higher than 20% of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s religious discrimination claims. We stand with Samantha Elauf and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in asking that the court uphold the freedom of religion for the sake of our country’s ongoing striving for inclusion and equality.”