Retail chain Abercrombie & Fitch wrongly fired a Muslim employee for wearing a headscarf at work, a federal judge ruled Monday. The company said Hani Khan’s hijab, worn for religious reasons, would hurt their sales because it deviated from the company’s “Look Policy,” which would create “customer confusion.”
U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers found this argument unconvincing, pointing out, “Abercrombie failed to proffer any evidence from those four months showing a decline in sales in the Hillsdale store; customer complaints or confusion; or brand damage linked to Khan’s wearing of a hijab.”
The infamous Look Policy dictates employee fashion, from how they style their hair to how many earrings they can wear.
Though Abercrombie insists, even in the wake of the judge’s ruling, that it does not discriminate based on religion, Khan’s lawsuit is not the first to allege unfair treatment over the hijab. In 2011, Samantha Elauf, a Muslim teenager, won an employment discrimination lawsuit against the company after an Oklahoma branch refused to hire her because of her headscarf.
Abercrombie previously settled a lawsuit alleging racist hiring practices that kept Asian, Latino, and African American employees out of visible sales positions, instead concentrating them in back-room stocking or inventory jobs. In 2004, the company had to pay out $40 million in a landmark settlement with thousands of plaintiffs.