Abercrombie & Fitch has been the subject of several discrimination lawsuits in the past, including a racial-discrimination complaint in 2005, but none that have reached the highest court in the nation. However, that changed today when the retailer was set to defend its so-called “look policy” before the Supreme Court. The Equal Employment Opportunity Council brought suit against the brand after prospective employee Samantha Elauf was told her hijab violated said “look policy,” which Abercrombie maintains has nothing to do with religion and merely restricts headwear of all kinds. (They have since modified the policy to allow headscarves.)
Politico reports that in the first round of oral arguments today, Justice Samuel Alito pointed out that the look policy only applied to job holders, not job applicants, suggesting that Elauf’s non-hiring could have been a bona fide case of religious discrimination, while Justice Sonia Sotomayor countered, “Why would she suspect that if she is qualified and has the personality they’re looking for, and is dressed appropriately, that this company would fail to hire her because they refused to accommodate her religious belief?” Today is only the first day of the case, but whatever the decision, Abercrombie v. Equal Employment Opportunity Council promises to be a benchmark for future religious-discrimination suits.