Legal Blog

Telebriefs®: Religious Accommodation in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch

af-logoOn June 1st, the Supreme Court announced its decision in the case of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) v. Abercrombie & Fitch. Those unfamiliar with this highly publicized case are encouraged to read the pertinent facts and background information, which have been covered in previous Telebriefs®. The case concerns a Muslim woman named Samantha Elauf who wore a hijab during her interview for an Abercrombie & Fitch retail position. Elauf, who was refused the job on the grounds that her headscarf violated the company’s “Look Policy,” claimed that the company had violated the religious discrimination provision of  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Court ruled in favor of the EEOC, reversing a decision by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals which had previously granted summary judgment to the employer, dismissing MS. Elauf’s case. According to the Supreme Court, Abercrombie & Fitch did indeed discriminate against Elauf, asserting that responsibility rests with each potential employer to determine whether the dispute needs to be sent back to the trial court to  to ascertain an interviewee may need a religious accommodation for a particular practice or belief. For employers, the practical import of this decision is that interviewers and hiring managers may violate Title VII by failing to bring up certain topics. In short, if you are in position to hire someone and perceive an applicant’s disability or need for religious accommodation, you must take proactive steps to engage in an interactive dialogue with that candidate or employee about such perceived disability, or beliefs, or practices. The Court’s full opinion can be accessed here.

Other topics covered in the first Telebrief® of June include the EEOC’s latest transgender rights-related lawsuit, considerations for including sexual orientation and gender identity in employee handbook provisions, and recommendations for handling unemployment claims. To read more or to listen to the May 27th Telebrief®, or to listen to past installments, please click here.



Geared to executives with employee relations responsibilities (HR directors, supervisors, managers, business owners), Labor and Employment Telebriefs® are information-packed 30 minute briefings via the telephone. Telebriefs® provide information and insights to help executives stay current with latest workplace law developments and in front of trends so as to enable proactive policy making and management .

On the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month, from 9 – 9:30 am ET, join Offit Kurman Labor & Employment Chair Howard Kurman, as he discusses developments occurring over the past two weeks that will most significantly impact employers nationwide. The focus is squarely on the practical. Why is this event significant for employers? What are the lessons to be learned or actions taken?

These twice-monthly teleconferences are an easy way to stay current and compliant with the latest Labor and Employment law developments that will significantly affect you and your company.  Our guarantee: You will learn something useful, on every call!

If you have any questions regarding  labor and employment issues please contact Howard Kurman: | 410.209.6417


Howard Kurman website

Howard K. Kurman is Chair of the firm’s Labor & Employment Department. Mr. Kurman regularly counsels clients on all aspects of proactive employment/labor issues. He represents employers ranging in size from as small as 20 employees to those employers with geographically disparate locations consisting of over 4,000 employees. Mr. Kurman assures, through regular contact with his clients, that they promulgate and maintain the most effective employment policies that will, to the extent possible, minimize their legal exposure in today’s litigious workplace.

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