A former employee at Abercrombie & Fitch & Co. is suing the company after she said she was deliberately fired for refusing to remove her Muslim headscarf.
According to the Associated Press, Hani Khan, a 20-year-old college student, says she worked in the stockroom at the company’s Hollister store in San Mateo, Calif. back in 2009. When she was hired, Khan said, the manager told her she was permitted to wear her Muslim headscarf, or hijab, as long as it was in the company’s colors.
But after a district manager and corporate human resources manager asked her to remove it four months later and she declined, she said she was fired.
“When I was asked to remove my scarf after being hired with it on, I was demoralized and felt unwanted,” Khan, 20, said in a statement, according to the AP. “Growing up in this country where the Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of religion, I have felt let down.”
According to the Vancouver Sun newspaper, Khan appeared at a news conference in late June in San Francisco to announce that she had teamed with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission in a federal discrimination lawsuit. The commission ruled back in September that Khan was fired illegally.
“For an employer to, point blank, require an employee to relinquish their religious practice is a violation of our cherished civil rights laws,” Zahra Billoo, executive director of the Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told the Vancouver Sun. “It’s really important that individual rights are protected and the 1964 Civil Rights Act is upheld.”
Abercrombie dismissed the accusations to the AP.
“We comply with the law regarding reasonable religious accommodation, and we will continue to do so,” Rocky Robbins, the company’s general counsel told the AP. “We are confident that when this matter is tried, a jury will find that we have fully complied with the law.”
Still, the company has been charged with discrimination in the past.
A 17-year-old Tulsa, Okla. girl said in 2009 that the company rejected her for a job because she was wearing a hijab. Additionally, in 2008, a Muslim woman said the company rejected her for a stocking position in one of their stores for the same reason.
Khan’s lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco and seeks damages and a change in the company’s “look policy” that forbids the wearing of religious headscarves by employees.