failure to accommodate

The EEOC issued a press release on July 20, 2015 announcing that the federal appeals court has dismissed Abercrombie & Fitch’s (“AF”) appeal of the EEOC’s religious discrimination case because AF made the decision to settle the case following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling.

Below is a summary of the court proceedings.Beth-West-15_web

The case arose when Samantha Elauf, then a teenager who wore a headscarf or hijab as part of her Muslim faith, applied for a job at an AF store in her hometown of Tulsa, Okla.  She was denied hire for failing to conform to the company’s “look policy,” which AF claimed banned head coverings.  Elauf then filed a charge with the EEOC, alleging religious discrimination, and the EEOC filed suit against AF charging that the company refused to hire Elauf due to her religion, and that it failed to accommodate her religious beliefs by making an exception to its “look policy” prohibiting head coverings.  The trial court granted summary judgment on liability to EEOC after holding that the evidence established that Elauf wore the hijab as part of her Muslim faith, that AF was on notice of the religious nature of her practice, and that it refused to hire her as a result.  A jury subsequently awarded Elauf damages for the discrimination.

Continue Reading The Final Resolution of EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch After the U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision

Abercrombie & Fitch (AF) refused to hire Samantha Elauf, a practicing Muslim, on the basis that the headscarf she wore during her interview conflicted with AF’s “Look Policy” which prohibits employees from wearing “caps” (a term that the Policy did not define). The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed suit on Elauf’s behalf, alleging a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which, inter alia, prohibits a prospective employer from refusing to hire an applicant because of the applicant’s religious prac­tice when the practice could be accommodated without undue hard­ship. Elauf wore the headscarf as part of her religious practice as a Muslim but she did not communicate this to the manager who interviewed her nor did she ask for an accommodation in order to wear the headscarf.Beth-West-15_web

Continue Reading Supreme Court Issues its Decision in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores Answering the Question: When Does an Employer Have to Accommodate an Applicant’s Religious Practices?

Recently, my Alma Mater, The University of Southern California, was sued by a former member of the Trojan football team.  Former cornerback Brian Baucham filed a lawsuit against USC and former coach Lane Kiffin, alleging he suffered permanent injuries after being forced to play in a game while he was ill.  Baucham’s lawsuit claimed that he was “forced by Coach Kiffin to play a home game even though Mr. Baucham was very ill and diagnosed by the USC Health Clinic with an influenza-like illness, viral pharyngitis and dehydration.”  After playing in a game against Berkeley, “Baucham suffered from cardiopulmonary damage, as well as brain injury with neurocognitive deficits,” according to the lawsuit.  Baucham alleges that USC and Kiffin violated both the NCAA and USC injury protocol programs when they forced him to play.

This got me to thinking: Now that the National Labor Relations Board has found that scholarship football players are employees under the NLRA, what if Mr. Baucham filed suit against USC as an employee?
Continue Reading Why Employers Should Think Twice Before Making Employees Play Hurt