On Monday, June 1, 2015 the United States Supreme Court issued a much anticipated decision in the case of EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch. This case raised the question of whether an applicant for a retail sales position with Abercrombie & Fitch could be denied that position solely because she wore a black headscarf, an appearance contrary to the “Abercrombie look” which the company demands of its sales force. In a major victory for employees generally, the Supreme Court held that Abercrombie could not deny the position to this applicant, who wore the scarf for religious reasons. Although the company argued that it had no knowledge the applicant wore the head scarf for religious reasons (there was no mention during the job interview whether she wore the scarf for religious or secular reasons), the Court held that the employer’s actual knowledge was not necessary as long as the employer had a “suspicion” the headscarf was worn for religious reasons.
If all that is needed to trigger an employer’s duty to provide an accommodation is an employer “suspicion” of an applicant’s or an employee’s religious beliefs, employer obligations under federal discrimination laws will have increased dramatically. We will provide an in-depth analysis of the Supreme Court’s decision in the June, 2015 issue ofThe Employer.