In a few months, the Supreme Court will hear a case about a Muslim girl who didn’t get hired as a salesperson at an Abercrombie & Fitch store.

Samantha Elauf applied for the job in June 2008, when she was 17. She wore a hijab (or headscarf) to the interview. The store’s dress code does not permit headwear of any kind, but Elauf didn’t bring up her need to wear a hijab to work in the interview. The district manager decided not to hire Elauf, so Elauf filed a lawsuit against the clothing retailer with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

A federal jury initially awarded Elauf $20,000. But, a Federal Court of Appeals overruled the first decision because Elauf did not tell the store she needed a religious exemption from the store’s dress code. The EEOC was unhappy with the result of the Federal Appeal and successfully petitioned to have the case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

There are several problems with this case, but for the moment, let’s forget about a couple of those problems. Let’s ignore the fact that a devout Muslim, committed to the belief that a woman’s beauty should be hidden and that her sexuality should be minimized, was applying for a job at a store known for provocative clothing, racy catalogs, and sexy advertising. Something that makes as much sense as a member of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) applying for a job at a slaughterhouse.

The real problem here is the EEOC saying that people should have their religion-based needs accommodated by employers, without having to ask their employer for accommodation.

The very reason we have laws that exclude race, religion, and gender from hiring decisions, is to ensure that companies don’t make prejudicial assumptions about job candidates. But, that’s exactly what the EEOC is asking for: a ruling that forces companies to assume that some candidates may require religion-based accommodations (and therefore excluding a candidate who may need religious accommodations would be illegal).

According to the EEOC, all hiring managers at all companies should have an exhaustive understanding of all religions and all religious practices that might conflict with their standard business practices. And then of course, offer ascertain a candidates religion through clairvoyance and offer the appropriate religious accommodations.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule by the end of June. Will you be watching to see the outcome of case?




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