The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently asked the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review the court’s three-judge panel ruling that Abercrombie & Fitch’s (A&F) refusal to hire a woman because of her head scarf was not religious discrimination.
In a 2-1 decision in October, a panel of the court ruled that A&F did not discriminate against the prospective employee during her job interview because neither religion nor the need for an accommodation was discussed. Because the prospective employee never mentioned that she would need to be exempt from A&F’s dress code based on religious beliefs, the court explained that A&F could not have discriminated against her.
The EEOC and various religious and civil rights interest groups are urging the court to reconsider the ruling. They want the court to rehear the case before all the judges of the 10th Circuit. These groups are concerned that the ruling will establish an incentive for employers to turn a blind eye to applicants or employees needing accommodation — be it religious, disability or any other legal basis.
The court’s decision on whether or not to review the panel’s ruling and rehear the case is forthcoming and could affect future employment litigation actions.