In an important ruling on what federal law requires of employers when it comes to accommodation of religious practice, the US Supreme Court ruled that a retail clothing store impermissibly discriminated against a Muslim teen when it decided that her hijab violated its company dress code and refused to hire her. The ruling makes clear that employers cannot violate the law even if employees do not explicitly ask for accommodations of their religious practice and even if the employer does not know (but merely suspects) that an employee will need an accommodation, as long as that religion-based accommodation was a motive in the employer’s action.
Samantha Elauf, when she was 17, did what many teens do. She went to a local shopping mall and applied for a sales job. In Elauf’s case, her targeted employer was an Abercrombie Kids store in Tulsa, Oklahoma. At her employment interview, the teen wore a black head scarf. She did not state why she wore the piece, and the employer did not ask.