The Tulsa Interfaith Alliance applauds the June 1, 2015 decision of the US Supreme Court in which they sided with a Tulsa woman who was denied employment at the Abercrombie Kids store at Tulsa’s Woodland Hills mall because she wore a traditional Muslim head scarf to her interview.
Abercrombie said it rejected her application not because she was Muslim, but rather because her head scarf violated company dress policy, which forbids the wearing of caps. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sided with Samantha Elauf and sued Abercrombie. A Tulsa federal district court awarded Ms. Elauf $20,000 in compensation. Abercrombie appealed and the decision was overturned by the 10th District Court of Appeals. It was then taken to the US Supreme Court.
As reported by the Wall Street Journal, “the 8-1 decision heightened the duty employers have to accommodate workers’ religious practices, ruling that federal law requires ‘favored treatment’ of faith-based observances, not simply equal status with other activities.”
Since the Elauf case, the EEOC has issued guidance to employers, advising that the duty to accommodate religious practices doesn’t depend on an applicant or employee explicitly requesting it. If an employer is unsure, the commission advises them to seek more information. In other instances, it will be “obvious that the practice is religious and conflicts with a work policy,” requiring accommodation.
Rabbi Jack Moline, Executive Director of the national Interfaith Alliance, expressed support by saying, “In an increasingly diverse America, it cannot always be the burden of religious minorities to explain their faith to others. This decision ensures an easier path to equality in workplaces across America for people of all faiths.”
The Tulsa Interfaith Alliance applauds Ms. Elauf for her tenacity, and celebrates with her the US Supreme Court decision. (Ms. Elauf has since found employment with another company in Tulsa.)
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