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Supreme Court Tells Employers to Take Religious Discrimination Seriously

The U.S. Supreme Court in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc. has told employers to take religious discrimination seriously. Title VII prohibits religious discrimination in the workplace and requires employers to accommodate an employee's religious practices. In the Abercrombie case, the employer, Abercrombie & Fitch, did not hire an applicant because she was wearing a head scarf. The store manager involved in the decision to not hire the applicant presumed that the applicant wore the scarf for religious reasons. The store manager was correct in that presumption. The applicant was Muslim and wore the headscarf for religious purposes.

The retailer had a company policy prohibiting employees from hats and other head coverings. The retailer decided not to hire the applicant because the headscarf would violate that policy. The Supreme Court found that an employer cannot use an individuals' religious practice as a factor in employment decisions. The Court further explained that the law requires employers to accommodate an individual's religious practice and employers cannot use the need for an accommodation as a motivating factor in deciding to terminate or not hire.

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