Monday, June 27, 2011

Muslim woman sues Abercrombie & Fitch over hijab

I posted on this because it is an example of poor management in the most visible way. Here is the lead from the story; check out the link to it if you want to see the entire article:

SAN FRANCISCO – A former stockroom worker for Abercrombie & Fitch Co. sued the clothing retailer in federal court Monday, saying she was illegally fired after refusing to remove her Muslim headscarf while on the job.

Hani Khan said a manager at the company's Hollister Co. store at the Hillsdale Mall in San Mateo hired her while she was wearing her hijab. The manager said it was OK to wear it as long as it was in company colors, Khan said.

Four months later, the 20-year-old says a district manager and human resources manager asked if she could remove the hijab while working, and she was suspended and then fired for refusing to do so.

It's the latest employment discrimination charge against the company's so-called "look policy," which critics say means images of mostly white, young, athletic-looking people. The New Albany, Ohio-based company has said it does not tolerate discrimination.

Still, Abercrombie has been the target of numerous discrimination lawsuits, including a federal class action brought by black, Hispanic and Asian employees and job applicants that was settled for $40 million in 2004. The company admitted no wrongdoing, though it was forced to implement new programs and policies to increase diversity.

"Growing up in this country where the Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of religion, I felt let down," Khan, now a college student studying political science, 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 defended its record in a comment provided to The Associated Press, saying diversity in its stores "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," 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."

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco comes after the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled in September that Khan was fired illegally. Khan's lawsuit was filed in conjunction with the EEOC's lawsuit.

It is not the first time the company has been charged with discriminating against Muslim women over the wearing of a hijab.

In 2009, Samantha Elauf, who was 17 at the time, filed a federal lawsuit in Tulsa, Okla., alleging the company rejected her for a job because she was wearing a hijab.

The EEOC filed another lawsuit for the same reason, saying the company denied work to a hijab-wearing woman who applied for a stocking position in 2008 at an Abercrombie Kids store at the Great Mall in Milpitas, Calif.


And so I posted:

This isn't going to earn me any thumb's up around here, but I'm hoping that some around here recognize that your mind is like a parachute; it only works when it's open.

A & F is wrong.

1) They hired her wearing the head scarf. If they had a problem with it, then they should not have added her to the payroll.

2) She works in the stockroom, not the sales floor. She will not affect the A & F "look."

3) Her face is not covered, so it doesn't interfere with on-the-job communications, or present a safety hazard due to restricted vision.

4) The hypocrisy of A & F is incredible. They talk all about "diversity," but fire someone who is diverse from their "look."

While I have no love for Islam, the idea that you hire someone knowing how they dress, and then firing that person for continuing to dress as-hired is wrong. How the CEO of A & F let this get by his or her desk is probably the most telling aspect of this farce. There were a thousand ways to keep everyone happy, and not one manager at any level figured it out.

Time for the Board to clean house. Your senior management team is a bunch of air-headed losers: You are getting sued big time; you are creating bad publicity for the company; and you look like a bunch of fools who can't handle the most elementary workplace conflict resolution.

Maybe that's why your sales are sinking faster than the Lusitania.


What do you think?

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