When Samantha Elauf was refused work as a sales associate -- or "model" -- at her local Abercrombie & Fitch, she might have shrugged it off and found a new job. However, she recognized that there might have been a bigger issue at hand: her Muslim identity.
In 2008, when she applied for the position, the clothing retail store denied her application. And she suspects that it was due to the fact that she was wearing a hijab -- a Muslim head scarf -- during the interview. Seven years later, the case is still being fought. This Wednesday, the case is up to the Supreme Court to make a decision.
What must be considered with the issue is the fact that Muslim women who wear hijabs face insurmountable difficulties and discrimination in the workforce, while employers have rights that allow them to avoid "undue hardship."
Abercrombie & Fitch is no stranger to controversy surrounding their questionable hiring tactics. Recently, they have settled a lawsuit by "black, hispanic, and Asian-American college students for $40 million," according to USA Today. They have since promised to diversify their hiring and marketing tactics. The company has since boasted that their non-white sales associates have risen from 10 percent to 50 percent.
Many religious groups -- including those from Christian to Jewish faiths -- are standing by Elauf, however, after the federal government charged the clothing retail chain with discrimination for denying Elauf the job due to her hijab.
"This is an extremely important issue that affects people of many different religious faiths," said lawyer Gene Schaeer who is representing 15 religious and social rights groups in the case.
Schaeer is right. If the court rules in favor of Elauf, this could stand as a landmark case for those job applicants who require time off for religious holidays as well as those who wear clothing such as hijabs.
However, the clothing retail chain has contended that workplaces should not inquire about an applicant's faith. They claim that Elauf never outright said she needed the hijab due to her religion.
"Accommodating religious practices is not always straightforward, in large part because it can be hard to tell who wants or needs accommodation," the retail chain's brief in court stated. "It is generally the employee's or applicant's duty to ask for an accommodation -- not the employer's job to guess."