Social Question

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Does Abercrombe and Fitch have the right to fire a woman because she refuses to remove her headscarf?

Asked by Captain_Fantasy (11431points) February 25th, 2010

An issue of the rights of a business versus the rights of an employee.

Abercrombe & Fitch claims the hijab violates the A&F “Look Policy”.

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60 Answers

ducky_dnl's avatar

At my job I’m not allowed to show my cross on my necklace. I think she should have to take it off while working. It’s not fair that I have to hide my cross under my shirt and she can proudly wear her hijab. Abercrombie was right!

rawrgrr's avatar

I’ve always hated Abercrombie & Fitch.

fireinthepriory's avatar

Certainly not, it’s an issue of religion. I think they might not hire her in the first place though, from what I hear A&F has always had pretty asinine and discriminatory absurd hiring practices.

ETpro's avatar

They may have that right in most US jurisdictions. Employers can fire for any reason that cannot be demonstrated to be discriminatory. In this case, it’s a fine line. She could argue that she is being singled out because her religious convictions require her to wear a head covering. The employer would have to show why the act of wearing a scarf has an impact on her job performance of the workplace environment, and so firing her is not discriminatory.

SuperMouse's avatar

Why did they hire her in the first place if they didn’t like the scarf? If she took it off for the interview(s), then she mislead them. I think it is ridiculous to fire someone over a head scarf, especially one that has religious symbolism, but if she took it off just to get a job, where were her beliefs then? If they hired her knowing full well she wore the scarf then they should not fire her for refusing to take it off.

lilikoi's avatar

Tough call. Is a suit being sold filed?

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

She made it a federal issue.

ducky_dnl's avatar

Well if she wins and can wear her hijab, I want my rights to show my Cross. I also want my right to read the Bible while working. She knew the rules when she applied. I hope she loses her case.

Bronny's avatar


first off, headscarves are incredibly IN right now.

Second of all, two wrongs do not make a right and an employer never has the right to violate someone elses constitutional rights because they are afraid it will hurt their business. That, my friends, is discrimination.

You should never encourage the immorality of a person by being employed by them when they do not respect you. It is your own fault if you choose to work for an employer who is so uneducated.

eponymoushipster's avatar

If you apply to A&F and don’t realize that they’re up their own asses regarding appearance, you need to get checked.

Secondly, it shows how retarded whoever hired her is. You didnt realize that a practicing Muslim woman would wear her headscarf all the time? Ace job, idiot.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Can they? Yes

Should they? I have no idea

It seems to me an employer should have the right to hire and fire anyone for any reason.
Best to get an employee contract if possible.

ChocolateReigns's avatar

@ducky_dnl You can’t show your cross or read your Bible while working? I suppose reading anything could be against rules, but letting a cross on a necklace is fine. Who cares? Anyone who does is looking for ways to be offended. I’m curious where you work, too.

plethora's avatar

Fire her ass and fine her for a frivolous lawsuit

ETpro's avatar

@ducky_dnl You already have a perfect right to wear a cross to work. You don’t have a right to insist that your employer pay you to sit and read your Bible, nor does a practicing Muslim have the right to insist on being paid to read the Koran.

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies You may be right that employers should be able to hire and fire for any reason, but that isn’t currently the law. You cannot be fired for your skin color or your religious beliefs.

escapedone7's avatar

Hmm I see two sides to this. There are other religions as well that believe in modesty or certain dress codes, such as some conservative pentecostals. In most instances I see the conservative pentecostals wearing the standard uniform only with a skirt instead of slacks. For example at the ophtomalogist yesterday all the assistants wore beige scrubs and one obviously pentecostal woman wore a long beige skirt to match her beige scrub shirt, and fit right in. Sometimes I see a nurse or postal worker wearing a long skirt instead of slacks. This does not seem like a huge problem for anybody. Adding a scarf would similarly be easy and harmless addition that would not be unreasonable. I think other religions as well would be interested in these kinds of rights. In most instances it seems as long as the attire would match the uniform or outfit , it wouldn’t be a big deal and would be such a small way to accommodate someone’s beliefs. Why not?

ON the other hand, what if I went to apply to be a hooters girl or stripper, and yet refused to remove my scarf or floor length skirt? Could I apply to be a playboy bunny or Dallas Cowboys cheerleader and yet insist on wearing a sack with my bunny ears or pom poms? Seems like certain jobs, like it or not, have women on display as part of the job description. Sometimes it might be part of the job description to model the clothes being sold at a particular shop for instance. Maybe they are trying to keep a sexy look like the hooters girls. If it somehow is part of the job description and that is the main point of the job (such as being a fashion model), then the person needs to find another job. I have no idea how this woman’s job description required a certain look and why. I would think it depends on the job description.

lilikoi's avatar

@ETpro But apparently she wasn’t being fired for any of those things; she was being fired because her look didn’t fit the brand image, which could arguably effect A&F’s bottom line.

ducky_dnl's avatar

Also the girl should have known that A&F is not a muslim store. A&F is about girls being sexy and showing off their bodies… not hiding them. If she didn’t see the short booty shorts and tank tops now hitting the rack, she should have paid closer attention. If she wants to wear her hijab then she needs to work at a store that isn’t about showing off your body and wearing revealing clothes.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Lewis Maltby’s new book Can they really do that? details just where our First Amendment rights end when it comes to the work place. Did you know that you can be fired for having drinks after work? Did you know that your company can fire you for taking up skiing as a hobby? Careful what you email your spouse from a work computer because details from your personal life can be grounds for dismissal. A woman got fired for having a political bumper sticker that the boss didn’t agree with. A teacher was fired for obesity. Maltby’s interview on NPR exposes some pretty horrific stories. All perfectly legal.

Reminds me of another question about this subject.

Jeruba's avatar

I would think an employer has the right to set a dress code for employees, especially those who deal with the public. It could be as general as “no overt display of religious or political symbolism” or as specific as “black shirts, pants, and footwear.” Why not? A person is being hired to do a certain thing, fulfill a certain function, and that could include wearing a uniform, wearing a lab coat, wearing a face mask, wearing a hard hat, not wearing tennis shoes, not wearing shorts, etc.

An employee who accepts a job agrees to follow the employer’s policies, whether they pertain to punctuality, conduct with respect to the public, use of alcohol, use of obscene language, or any other thing. If an employee is aware of those polices and violates them, and they are understood to be grounds for dismissal, then yes.

I don’t see how an employer can be taken to task for stating and following its own policy.

The question of whether they should have a particular policy is an entirely different issue.

lilikoi's avatar

To add to what @Jeruba said, I agree with that, except I do not think it is fair to change the terms of employment after you’ve already started working for a company. I have no idea if that’s what happened here, but just saying.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

If it’s helpful to the discussion, the girl only worked there for a week before her firing.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Did she know the rules beforehand? If yes, then yes. If no, then no.

lilikoi's avatar

Sounds like they should never have hired her. A&F has been slammed for this branding discrimination over and over again. Haven’t they learned to be more discreet yet? There must be some language in the law that allows them to do this, otherwise they would have been stopped in court long ago.

ducky_dnl's avatar

@ChocolateReigns I work at the mall part time now… hopefully I get back to full time again.

She wants to sue them after working one week? HA! I hope the courts laugh her all the way out of the courtroom. She sounds like a little whiner that hasn’t gotten her way and just needs to suck it up. She is in America now, not back in Iraq and all the other muslim countries

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Maybe she could get a job selling trikini’s.

lilikoi's avatar

@ducky_dnl That was ignorant. Who knows where she is from? Perhaps she is an American. Perhaps she took the job knowing how A&F operates and wanted to take one for the team and challenge the law? That lady only needed to spill coffee on herself once to sue McDonalds…she didn’t even have to work for them.

ducky_dnl's avatar

@lilikoi Finally, did the girl ever hear of asking one simple question? How hard is to ask: “Is there a dress code I must meet?” At my previous job interview that was the third question I asked.

Man I wish A&F would hire me to work for them, but I guess they are too busy hiring a muslim that wants to sue them on practically no grounds.

Trance24's avatar

@ducky_dnl Pull the cross out of your ass, it sounds like you have more of a problem with her being Muslim. If anything you should be upset with your employer. Companies should not have the right to make people forget their religious practices, just to comply with the job. Perhaps she cares a little more about her religion than you do and is willing to fight for her rights.

ducky_dnl's avatar

@Trance24 Okay, I’ll put it out of mine and shove it up yours… better? I’m a Christian, but unlike this woman I am not in everyones face about it. I don’t expect stores to change their policies just to accept my religious views. Also I’m a Christian with a bite. You say something I sure as hell will not let you walk all over me.

ETpro's avatar

@lilikoi Yes, that’s why I originally said A&F might be within thrie rights firing her. When it comes to clothing choice, @Jeruba has a good point. If a company can enforce a uniform code, why not a no-scarves code. It would just need to be consistent for all such employees to clearly avoid religious descrimination.

lilikoi's avatar

@ETpro yep, I agree with you.

YARNLADY's avatar

What next, employees can pick and choose the merchandise they will agree to show the customer, based on their religious beliefs? Oh, wait, some already refuse to dispense birth control pills because it goes against their belief. I guess religious accommodation is going to run amok.


Depends on Abercrombie and Fitch’s policy’s regarding dress. If they have a policy that says no head coverings, no exceptions, than they have a right to fire that individual. It may be a racist and discriminatory action, but if that’s their policy, that’s their policy. We may not like it, but that’s life. We do have a recourse——we don’t have to tolerate their policy——and refuse to visit their stores and buy their products. But we can’t tell them what to do with their hiring and firing practices if that is what is stipulated in their guidelines. Just like clubs. Men’s clubs have a right to disallow women in their clubs, if that’s one of their rules. We can protest and debate, but we can’t tell these clubs how to run their clubs.

john65pennington's avatar

This reminds me of a woman that refused to remove her veil, after being arrested for shoplifting. she stated its her religious belief in her home country, to not show her face.
i said to her, “lady, you are not in your home country, you are in America and under arrest for a crime. please remove your veil for a mug shot photograph”. she still refused and i just grabbed her veil took it off her face. she was photographed just like every other thief. if she is going to live in America, she is going to have to play by our rules, not hers. hope this gives somebody a hint.

Dr_C's avatar

They can have a dress code policy if they wish and it’s perfectly legal. Take into account that it’s a clothing company that is selling a particular look. They sell this look in their ads, in their catalog and ESPECIALLY in their in-store staff.

If you disagree with the dress-code at a place you are applying for a job, go somewhere else. This is not to say that I agree with the practice. I think it’s unfair she was asked to remove it. But it’s legal.

Azazel's avatar

Oh, and I suppose Porn studios can’t fire women for not taking their clothes off.

tb1570's avatar

Employers have a right to set dress codes, so, yes, they have the right to fire her.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

For an observant Muslim woman, covering the hair in public is a requirement of her faith. The wearing of a crucifix is not mandated by religious law or even by religious custom.

I do not know whether UK law permits employers to fire employees for observing religious dress code on the job. Despite widespread social anxiety concerning the influx of non-white, non-Christians, I feel discrimination based on religion is outright racism and not good business. It the employee treats A&F customers with respect and a helpful attitude that promotes sales and return business, the employer would be foolish as well as racist. Jewish males should be free to wear a skull cap at work as well.

mattbrowne's avatar

In Germany the issue gets addressed during the hiring interview. For many jobs it doesn’t matter. In our staff cafeteria for example we’ve got a Turkish woman wearing a headscarf. No problem at all, our course. For certain high-profile client facing jobs dress codes apply, but this doesn’t involve just headscarves. Women couldn’t wear jeans either. If someone invented a religion in which wearing jeans is a sign of devout behavior the dress code would still apply.

Cruiser's avatar

First, this girl was not fired….she is suing because they refused to hire her. Simple. She has a great case against them and will soon be a very wealthy little teenager.

“A Muslim teenager claims in a federal lawsuit that she was denied a job at an Abercrombie & Fitch clothing store at a Tulsa mall because she wore a head scarf.”

eponymoushipster's avatar

@Cruiser this sounds like someone looking for a payday.

1. Had this teenager never been in an A&F store before? Most of the girls (especially) are half-dressed.

2. Wouldn’t some of the marketing and visuals in the store contradict the religious beliefs of a Muslim, particularly one who is strictly adhering to her beliefs to the point of the head covering?

It’s like working at the Apple Store, and bemoaning the fact you have to wear a shirt with an Apple logo on it and sell iPhones.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Different city in this one Cruiser.

Cruiser's avatar

@Captain_Fantasy any link to your story? I’ve searched high and low for anything new other than this A/F one popping up.

I did though find this one…different city and different store…

A Muslim woman has lodged a complaint with federal officials after she said she was fired from her job at a San Mateo clothing store for refusing to remove her hijab, or head scarf.
Hani Khan, 19, of Foster City said she was fired Monday at the Hollister clothing store at the Hillsdale Shopping Center.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Yeah San Mateo.
I bet all this teen outrage goes away when A&F writes a big check. A&F owns & operates Hollister.

CMaz's avatar

Ok, there use to be jeans. And there still might be.

Ones with a pouch or extension for men that have a bit extra and need the space.

Making their Johnson’s size apparent. Would that be consideration for firing if that individual chose not to change his clothing?

Arisztid's avatar

Here is an interesting discussion on Abercrombie’s discriminatory hiring practices when it comes to race and general appearance.

I would think that wearing the Hijab would fall into this discussion.

Even if I liked Abercrombie’s products, I would not purchase there because of it. After all, they obviously do not want people who look like me as employees. They do not want my money then. :)

RAWRxRandy's avatar

what does her religion have anything to do with the store?
They should allow this woman to wear her headscarf only if its to do with religion.
It’s her right.
I always get a bad vibe from A&F when my friends go in there…

filmfann's avatar

A&F sell fashion and style. They want their sales people to look fashionable and stylish.
Once they hired this woman, if they didn’t like her look, they should have found a job that didn’t involve customer contact for her.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@ducky_dnl no, reading the bible while working is NOT the same as wearing hijab..there is no reason you should be reading books when working.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I agree with @rawrgrr @eponymoushipster and @fireinthepriory – A&F are assholes for many other reasons – this doesn’t at all surprise me.
@john65pennington you grabbed her veil off? that’s terrible, I’m sorry.

ChaosCross's avatar

Yes, if it is a job, they make the rules, including dress code. If they don’t care that a woman gets fired because of her religious conviction, that really is their decision to make because they are handing out the pay checks.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

@ChaosCross Then any rule, no matter how arbitrary, that an employer requires of employees is acceptable? Employees must comply with such rule, no matter how abusive or discriminatory?

YARNLADY's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence A comment that depends on taking a situation into the realm of the absurd is never helpful

xoxjessxox's avatar

How do you think they sell half of the clothes that they sell? They have a look to keep up, they have to make money. It may not be right, but yes, they can fire an employee for anything they want as long as its legit, and wearing something that they don’t think looks good and doesn’t represent their company well will get you fired if you continue to wear it after they have told you not to. That’s improper conduct of uniform.

Also, many clothing stores’ uniform is to wear their clothes to work. I knoe this is the uniform for Garage: wear their clothes. I am 99% sure that this is the uniform for Abercrombie&Fitch also. I am also 99% sure that A&F don’t sell hijabs, so unless this hijab she was wearing is from there, they can easily say she wasn’t wearing her proper uniform. I doubt she would win the case against them anyway, even if she was in the right.

Response moderated (Spam)
ChaosCross's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence Not necessarily. If the employers push the boundaries and limits of tolerance the employees would then have good reason to riot for better treatment or policy revision.

So in this case, the lady can organize a protest, get a job somewhere else, or impose on her religious grounds by not wearing the covering.

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