Is Religious Discrimination Illegal at Work?

Employees or prospective employees deserve to be treated fairly, regardless of their religious beliefs. Like all forms of employment discrimination, religious discrimination is immoral and illegal, and those who experience it can seek damages. Discrimination underlined with red marker

Loosely defined, religious discrimination is a harmful action “against individuals because of their religion in hiring, firing, and other…conditions of employment.”

Recently, the Supreme Court said that it would hear the case of a Muslim teenager in Oklahoma who was rejected from a job at an Abercrombie and Fitch store, because her hijab did not meet the company’s floor demands.

The company reportedly refers to floor sales associates as “models” and has a “look policy”. The policy reportedly bans caps and black clothing. During the interview process, MSNBC reported that applicants to floor jobs are graded on a three-point scale of “appearance & sense of style.”

In her lawsuit, Samantha Elauf claims that when she interviewed for a position with the company, she scored a two on the grading scale, but when it was determined that she wore a hijab, the store lowered her score, disqualifying her from obtaining a position.

Elauf is being represented by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and is suing under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Initially, Elauf won her case in a district court, but the ruling was overturned by an appeals court that ruled that she did not explicitly tell Abercrombie and Fitch that she wore the hijab for religious reasons.

The company claims that the hijab “inaccurately represents the brand, causes consumer confusion, fails to perform an essential function of the position and ultimately damages the brand.”

How Can I File a Religious Discrimination Lawsuit?

Remember, California has laws that prohibit discrimination based on a person’s religious views. Additionally, there are laws about discrimination when it comes to:

  • Offensive jokes and slurs
  • Scheduling meetings during prayer times or religious observances
  • Forcing an employee to participate in religious activities

If you have experienced harassment or discrimination at work because of your religious views, contact our attorneys immediately. We would like to hear from you and discuss the potential of your case.

Kesluk, Silverstein & JacobLos Angeles employment attorneys