Abercrombie & Fitch guilty of wrongful termination in California

Most companies have a disclaimer on job applications that they do not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, religion or various other factors. In theory, that may be true, but what about in reality? A federal judge in California recently ruled in favor of a former Abercrombie & Fitch employee, stating that she was the victim of wrongful termination because she wore a Muslim head scarf to work. The company has gone on record stating that it does not tolerate discrimination.

The woman was fired from a Hollister store in San Mateo in 2010. Abercrombie & Fitch claimed that her head scarf was in violation of employee dress codes and could impact sales at the store. The judge presiding over the case responded that the company could not produce any credible evidence that showed a decrease in sales due to the employee's head scarf.

A spokesperson for Abercrombie & Fitch stated that the company allows reasonable accommodations when it comes to religion; however, the company has faced similar discrimination suits in the past. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission began pursing litigation on the woman's behalf in 2011. Another hearing is scheduled at a later time to determine if the company will pay any punitive damages.

Cases like this will hopefully serve as a lesson to other companies that workplace discrimination and wrongful termination is not tolerated. However, California workers who feel that they have been subject to discrimination at work for any reason may benefit from exploring what legal options are available to them. Knowing their rights is the first step to fighting back against unfair treatment in the workplace.

Source: Time, Judge: Abercrombie Wrongly Fired Muslim for Hijab, Pau Elias, Sept. 9, 2013

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