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America's highest court just sided with a Muslim girl denied an Abercrombie 'model' job

Samantha Elauf, then 17, was rejected because her headscarf didn’t fit with the company’s “look policy”.

Samantha Elauf, who won her court case today
Samantha Elauf, who won her court case today
Image: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

THE US SUPREME Court has ruled for a Muslim woman who did not get hired after she showed up to a job interview with clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch wearing a black headscarf.

The court, the highest federal court in the country, said that employers generally have to accommodate job applicants and employees with religious needs if the employer at least has an idea that such accommodation is necessary.

Job applicant Samantha Elauf, then 17, did not tell her interviewer she was Muslim. But Justice Antonin Scalia said for the court that Abercrombie ”at least suspected” that Elauf wore a headscarf for religious reasons.

“That is enough,” Scalia said in an opinion for seven justices.

The headscarf, or hijab, violated the company’s strict dress code for employees who work in its retail stores.

Abercrombie & Fitch An Abercrombie & Fitch billboard Source: FaceMePLS

‘Model’ interview

Elauf was 17 when she interviewed for a “model” position, as the company calls its sales staff, at an Abercrombie Kids store in a shopping mall in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 2008.

She impressed the assistant store manager with whom she met. But her application faltered over her headscarf because it conflicted with the company’s Look Policy, a code derived from Abercrombie’s focus on what it calls East Coast collegiate or preppy style.

Abercrombie has since changed its policy on headscarves and has settled similar lawsuits elsewhere.

Abercrombie and Fitch Ahead of the Bell An Abercrombie & Fitch male model poses with two customers Source: AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed suit on Elauf’s behalf, and a jury eventually awarded her $20,000.

But the federal appeals court in Denver threw out the award and concluded that Abercrombie & Fitch could not be held liable because Elauf never asked the company to relax its policy against headscarves.

The company also recently did away with its policy of hiring topless male models for store openings, or recruiting staff based on their looks.

READ: Meet the toy that is doing its little bit to bring down Barbie >

READ: Model Janice Dickinson sues Bill Cosby for defamation >

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Associated Press

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