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Hani Khan, Bay Area Muslim Woman, Sues Abercrombie & Fitch over ‘Hijab Firing’

A former stockroom employee at a Hollister store in California is suing parent company Abercrombie & Fitch, alleging the clothing retailer illegally fire her for refusing to remove her Muslim headscarf.

'The A&F Look' apparently doesn't include hijabs, even in the stockroom.

According to the Associated Press, Hani Khan, who was 20 years old at the time, worked at the Hollister Co. store in the Hillsdale Mall in San Mateo, California, a suburb of San Francisco. Khan says she was hired while wearing a hijab; her manager told her it was acceptable attire providing it was in company colors.

Then, four months later, a district manager and human resources manager requested that she remove the headscarf while working. When she refused, she was suspended and then terminated.

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ruled that the young woman was fired illegally; she has now filed suit in the US District Court in San Francisco in conjunction with an EEOC lawsuit.

“Growing up in this country, where the Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of religion, I felt let down,” she explained 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 no stranger to discrimination lawsuits. The company, which has a “look policy” that goes for a “natural classic American style” that critics say means mostly white, young and athletic-looking people, settled a class action lawsuit brought by minority job applicants for $40 million in 2004, without admitting any wrongdoing. A&F implemented diversity policies as a result of that suit, but in 2009 a 17-year-old Muslim girl named Samantha Elauf sued the company in Oklahoma for allegedly denying her employment because she wore a hijab. The EEOC also sued A&F for denying a stockroom position to another hijab-wearing Muslim woman in Milpitas, California in 2008.

The company rejects claims that it discriminates, claiming its workforce “far exceeds the diversity in the population of the United States.” “We comply with the law regarding reasonable religious accommodation, and we will continue to do so,” Rocky Robbins, general counsel for A&F, told the AP. Speaking of the Khan lawsuit, he said “we are confident that when this matter is tried, a jury will find that we have fully complied with the law.”

Khan’s lawyer says their goal is to get A&F to change its “look policy” so that religious headscarves are permitted in the workplace. “There is nothing American about discriminating against someone because of their religion,” attorney Araceli Martinez-Olguin told the AP. “Such a look policy cannot be squared with our shared values. No worker should have to choose between their religion and their job.”

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5 Comments

  1. RyanOctober 26, 2011 at 1:40 amReply

    What a bunch of bull shit. This is why America is finished. This is why Diversity divides. This is why this article is fuckin dog shit.

    • Brett WilkinsOctober 26, 2011 at 1:44 amReplyAuthor

      “This is why diversity divides.” So, should we be an all-white nation, or should we just keep everyone who doesn’t conform to what you believe an American ought to look like separated from the “real” Americans?

      • RyanOctober 26, 2011 at 1:58 amReply

        Wow what a bull shit response. How do you know I’m white? I might be mixed race and maybe half white. I think I should sue you for your ignorant response labeling white only. Fuck grow up! The store has a strict policy with their attire and brand. When you hire an employer its all in the paper work bud. She didn’t read it obviously and did not accept another philosophy which the store clearly sells to young men and women around the ages of 15-28 and the outfit she had on is obviously not in the sales list. DUHHHHHHHH RIGHT!!! If they sold the outfit she wore then yes wear it. Hell lets all wear it because it’s quite stylish with the right pants. But no its not on the retail wrack so no right to sue and every right to be fired. You’re a diptstick for such a trash response. O and my diversity comment has nothing to do with race you ignorant putz. It has to do with certain aspects and rights to private property and business/consumer rights. It has to do with the fact that she can sue over an absurd accusation.

        • mamaNovember 27, 2011 at 6:57 pmReply

          um Ryan? She was fired 4 months after she got hired?

  2. R LSeptember 11, 2013 at 2:42 pmReply

    I’m from Dearborn MI, which has a disproportionately high population of Arabic peoples.

    So, tell me what would happen if I, a European American went into a Hijab shop and wanted to work there. Say, I have great style sense and experience. Say, I’m dressed conservatively, with a high collar shirt, bare arms from the elbow and no hat.
    Do you even think I’d have a chance working there, if so, would they have to right to ask me to cover up?

    If this girl can sue AF, then I should be able to sue a Hijab store for the same reasoning.

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