Monday, 8 March 2010
Abercrombie and Fitch is a California employment lawyer’s delight. In 2005, the company settled a class action discrimination lawsuit brought by former employees who claimed they were discriminated against on the basis of race. The company is in employee discrimination news yet again. The retailer has been named in a complaint filed by a Muslim woman, who says that she was fired because the company felt her hijab or head scarf, did not gel with the company’s image.
Hani Khan is what Abercrombie and Fitch tells its employees is the model customer of the company – All-American. She was born in New York, and raised in California. She has worn a hijab as long as she can remember, and no one, apart from curiosity, had ever asked her about it. She wore it when she applied for a part time position at Hollister’s Abercrombie and Fitch. Five months later, she was fired. The reason? Her scarf clashed with the company’s corporate image.
Back in 2005, other employees including Anthony Ocampo, had alleged discrimination at the retailer. Ocampo was denied a job at the retailer because “there were too many Filipinos” at the company. He was one among more than 10,000 former employees or job applicants at Abercrombie and Fitch, who filed a class action lawsuit that ended in a $50 million judgment. It also resulted in the company being asked to have its employees undergo inclusion training. The training seems to have left no impact on the employer here.
The Civil Rights Act specifically forbids discrimination on the basis of religion. Employees can express their religious beliefs, unless they “cause express hardship” to the employer. It’s hard for any California employment lawyer to understand what hardship Abercrombie and Fitch were exposed to from Khan wearing a few inches of cloth over her head. She was not even regularly working on the retail floor . Her job involved working in the back stockroom. That was in keeping with what former employees allege, was another discriminatory practice at the company - it preferred to tuck minority employees away in back room jobs, and had white employees out in front.
Posted by Skip Slates at 13:36