WASHINGTON – Samantha Elauf didn’t look like a typical Abercrombie & Fitch sales associate, or “model,” when she applied in 2008 for a job in Tulsa, Okla. That much was clear from the retailer’s “look policy.”
But whether the preppy clothier’s refusal to hire the 17-year-old girl was due to her Muslim religion or simply because she wore a black hijab, or head scarf, during the interview is still being fought out seven years later. On Wednesday, it will be up to the Supreme Court to decide.
The justices must weigh the employment difficulties faced by religious minorities – in particular, Muslim women who cover their heads in public – against the rights of employers to avoid “undue hardship.” Their decision will hinge on a narrower question, however: Must the job applicant request a religious accommodation, or should the employer recognize the need for it?
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