Muslim Employee Fired for Refusing to Remove Headscarf
Hani Khan, a former stockroom worker for clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch Co., claims she was fired when she wouldn’t take off her Muslim headscarf at work.
After the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission agreed with her, she filed suit in a San Francisco district court.
Khan says she wore the scarf — or hijab — when she interviewed for the position, and the manager of the store said she could wear one as long as it was in company colors. But four months later she was asked to remove it and, when she refused, she was suspended and later fired.
“Growing up in this country where the Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of religion, I felt let down,” Khan said at a news conference. “This case is about principles, the right to be able to express your religion freely and be able to work in this country.”
Abercrombie & Fitch is familiar with the inside of a courtroom. The New Albany, Ohio company says it does not tolerate discrimination, but was sued in 2004 by black, Hispanic and Asian employees and job applicants in a case that was settled for $40 million. Abercrombie admitted no wrongdoing but was forced to implement policies increasing diversity.
Khan’s case is also not the first time the company has been accused of discriminating against Muslim women wearing hijabs. In 2008 and 2009, it was sued by two other women making the same claims.
“We comply with the law regarding reasonable religious accommodation, and we will continue to do so,” said Rocky Robbins, the company’s general counsel. “We are confident that when this matter is tried, a jury will find that we have fully complied with the law.”