INTERNATIONAL NEWS - A former stockroom worker for Abercrombie & Fitch Co. sued the clothing retailer in federal court Monday, saying she was illegally fired after refusing to remove her Muslim headscarf while on the job.
Hani Khan said a manager at the company's Hollister Co. store at Hillsdale Mall in San Mateo hired her while she was wearing her hijab. The manager said it was OK to wear it as long as it was in company colors, Khan said.
Four months later, the 20-year-old says a district manager and human resources manager asked if she could remove the hijab while working, and she was suspended and then fired for refusing to do so.
"Growing up in this country where the Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of religion, I felt let down," Khan, now a college student studying political science, said at a news conference.
"This case is about principles, the right to be able to express your religion freely and be able to work in this country."
A message left Monday morning for Eric Cerny, a spokesman for the New Albany, Ohio-based company, was not immediately returned.
The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco comes after the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled in September that Khan was fired illegally. Khan's lawsuit was filed in conjunction with the EEOC's lawsuit.
It is not the first time the company has been the target of legal action by a Muslim woman over the wearing of a hijab.
In 2009, Samantha Elauf, who was 17 at the time, filed a federal lawsuit in Oklahoma alleging the company rejected her for a job because she was wearing a hijab.
The EEOC filed another lawsuit for the same reason, saying the company denied work to a hijab-wearing woman who applied for a stocking position in 2008 at an Abercrombie Kids store at the Great Mall in Milpitas, California.
Khan's attorney said her client is looking to get Abercrombie to change its "look policy" to allow religious headscarves to be worn by employees, and for unspecified damages. The lawsuit alleges violations of federal and state civil rights and employment laws.
"Abercrombie prides itself on requiring what it calls a natural classic American style. But there's nothing American about discriminating against someone because of their religion," said Araceli Martinez-Olguin, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center.
"Such a look policy cannot be squared with our shared values. No worker should have to choose between their religion and their job."
Source : Sapa
Posted on: 10:18 Tue, 28 June 2011
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