A federal judge ruled that clothing retailer Abercrombie and Fitch violated anti-discrimination laws when it fired a Muslim worker for wearing a headscarf, also known as a hijab. Hani Khan was fired from a Hollister-brand shop in San Mateo, Calif., for refusing to take off the scarf after she was ordered to remove it. Hollister is under Abercrombie and Fitch's corporate umbrella
Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled that the firm did not face undue hardship to accommodate employees who wear headscarves for religious reasons. Abercrombie and Fitch had attempted to argue that changes to its "look policy" would affect sales. The lawsuit against the company was filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Khan said that when she was hired at Hollister it was with the understanding that she would be allowed to wear her headscarf at work. According to court records, Khan was suspended by a district manager four months into her employment for refusing to take off her scarf. She was later fired.
"I was shocked and surprised when I was asked to remove my hijab [headscarf] and then fired for refusing to comply," Khan said.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations supported Khan in her efforts.
"At the heart of this case is the belief that no-one should ever have to choose between their religion and work," said Zahra Billoo of CAIR's San Francisco office.
A jury will determine the damages that will be awarded later this month, the BBC reported.
"Abercrombie & Fitch does not discriminate based on religion and we grant religious accommodations when reasonable," spokesman Bruce MacKenzie said. "It is our policy not to comment on pending litigation."