Many Muslim women in Atlanta wear headscarves. It used to be that wearing a headscarf, much like those worn by Muslimas, was the height of fashion, especially in the 1950’s. In my slideshow, I show Queen Elizabeth, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Jackie Kennedy and Sophia Loren all in their headscarves.
But today, wearing a headscarf, even for the sake of fashion and sometimes, a “bad hair day,” is deemed unbusinesslike!
Such was the case of a San Mateo, California woman who is suing Abercrombie & Fitch as she was allegedly fired from her job at the company’s Hillsdale Shopping Center outlet for not removing her headscarf…
The Muslim woman was told that “her headscarf, though worn based on a religious mandate, was not in compliance with the company’s ‘look policy,’” according to those representing her in the lawsuit. She worked at Hollister Co., which is a subsidiary of Abercrombie & Fitch, in the years 2009 and 2010.
Apparently, some Muslim traditions require that women wear the headscarf, or hijab, when out in public though it was previously believed by non-Muslims at least, that it was a personal choice if a Muslim woman wanted to observe the hijab or not but not mandatory. Even so, the wearing of the headscarf has become quite commonplace in the Muslim community within the past ten years or so.
Her legal case has been taken up by the Legal Aid Society of San Francisco – Employment Law Center, which is a group that works to defend the rights of the socially disadvantaged. By “socially disadvantaged” I’m sure they mean all minorities, with non-White Anglo-Saxon Protestants being the majority and the “baseline” in the United States and that’s a lot of ground to cover! Actor Richard Gere for example is decidedly Caucasian but a Buddhist!
A spokesman for the group, Christopher Herrera, said that the case came to them “through the Council on American-Islamic Relations. They know that we work with employment issues and with discrimination issues regarding employment.”
The Legal Aid Society and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) will be filing the law suit on Monday in San Francisco. On the same day, a news conference will be scheduled for 10 a.m. at the legal group’s offices at 180 Montgomery Street, Suite 600, San Francisco.
According to their press release the plaintiff worked for several months (not years) between 2009-10 while wearing a hijab in a low-profile stockroom position, which would not have required her to be out on the floor except for when she was stocking merchandise on the shelves. In February 2010, she was terminated from her position as an employee after she refused to remove her scarf.
The headscarf suit is being filed in conjunction with another lawsuit already filed against Abercrombie & Fitch by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission but details on the nature of the other suit have not been disclosed as of yet.
Certain department stores do have a strict dress code, for example, some stores require you to wear just black or perhaps khaki pants and a particular colored polo shirt with a uniform vest. They’re particular on the types of footwear you can wear and even your earrings!
Then does it stand to reason that headscarves are not permitted if they are not part of the “look” that the store wants to project through its employees?