Did Abercrombie & Fitch discriminate against a Muslim woman named Samantha Elauf when a manager denied her a job because of her headscarf? That’s, broadly, the question the Supreme Court took up today when it heard Elauf’s case against the declining preppy-cool retailer.
Elauf, who was 17 when she applied for a job at a Tulsa, Okla. store in 2008, had a strong interview with a manager, but was denied a job because Elauf didn’t fit in with the company’s “Look Policy,” which dictated that employees ought to conform to the company’s preppy aesthetic. Abercrombie company policy actually had allowances for religious head coverings, but no one asked Elauf why she wore a headscarf, and neither did Elauf explicitly ask for an exemption. The question before the Supreme Court is whose responsibility it was to make sure that Elauf’s rights weren’t being violated.
While there’s no way of knowing until the High Court’s ruling comes out, questioning at today’s oral arguments hints that the justices are sympathetic to Elauf’s argument, the BBC reports. “Justice Samuel Alito … said there was no reason not to hire her unless the firm assumed she would always wear a headscarf to work because of her religion,” the BBC reported. “He added employers could avoid such situations by asking prospective employees if they are able to abide by work rules.”
For more on the legal back and forth, read SCOTUSblog’s preview of today’s case.