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Employment Update: Employers Receive Unfavorable Decision from U.S. Supreme Court in Abercrombie Religious Bias Suit

June 8, 2015

On June 1, 2015, the United States Supreme Court reversed a Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals decision and sided with the EEOC in a religious discrimination lawsuit against Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc.

 

The EEOC successfully argued that Abercrombie’s decision not to hire a Muslim applicant because her headscarf which conflicted with Abercrombie’s dress policy may have violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The United States Supreme Court’s decision reverses a Tenth Circuit decision which held that the onus was on the job applicant to inform the employer that the headscarf was worn for religious observance and seek an accommodation. The United States Supreme Court held that a job applicant can prevail in a disparate treatment claim brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by showing that his or her potential need for an accommodation was at least a “motivating factor” in the employer’s decision not to hire the individual and that “actual knowledge” based upon information provided by the applicant is not required. The case was remanded back to the Tenth Circuit for further consideration consistent with the Supreme Court’s opinion.

 

Please contact Patrice Koeneke, Managing Partner, at patrice.koeneke@mcblaw.com if you have any questions or would like additional information.

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