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Can I Sue My Employer For Not Accommodating My Religious Dress? I Need A Lawyer!

On Behalf of | Jul 27, 2015 | Employment Discrimination, Religious Discrimination, Wrongful Termination |

Ohio Religious Discrimination Attorney Best Answer: Do I have to inform a prospective employer during the interview process that I wear a hijab for religious reasons? Do I have to notify prospective employers of my religious beliefs or practices prior to being hired? What type of lawyer do I need to sue my employer for wrongful termination based on my religion?

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Some of you may remember our employment discrimination attorneys‘ blogs about the Abercrombie & Fitch (“Abercrombie) case involving a Muslim job applicant, Samantha Elauf. Our employment law lawyers blogged about this case when it was decided by United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma and then Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, and then blogged about this religious discrimination case when it was before the United States Supreme Court for oral arguments. (See How Do I Get A Religious Accommodation At Work? Top Attorney Reply!; and Can My Boss Tell Me Not To Wear Religious Articles Of Clothing At Work? Lawyer Best Update).

By way of recap, in 2008, at the age of 17, Elauf applied for a job with the clothing company and wore a hijab to the interview. At some point during the application process, Abercrombie informed Elauf that she would not be hired because her hijab was in violation of the company’s “Look Policy,” which required employees to dress consistently with the looks and clothing in the store and also prohibits the wearing of “caps.”

Elauf wears the hijab for religious reasons, but did not inform the employer during the interview. When Elauf filed a lawsuit for religious discrimination, Abercrombie defended the case by arguing that it did not discriminate against Elauf because it “did not know” that she needed a religious accommodation to the company’s Look Policy. Basically, Abercrombie’s position created the simple question: Whose duty is it to raise the issue of a religious accommodation, the employee or employer?

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This lawsuit has been pending now for several years, including the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in Abercrombie’s favor, holding that Elauf “needed to inform” Abercrombie of her need for a religious accommodation and never did, so therefore, Abercrombie did not unlawfully discriminate against her. However, after petitioning the United States Supreme Court for review, on June 1, 2015, the Supreme Court issued its ruling in favor of Elauf holding that she did not need to request a religious accommodation in order to still be protected from religious discrimination. Rather, it was Abercrombie’s duty to inquire and ultimately provide the religious accommodation if necessary to accommodate an applicant’s or employee’s religious needs. This is a landmark decision in support of religious rights and protection in the workplace for employees. Specifically, Justice Scalia, delivered the Supreme Court’s holding as follows:

To prevail in a disparate-treatment claim, an applicant need show only that his need for an accommodation was a motivating fac­tor in the employer’s decision, not that the employer had knowledge of his need. Title VII’s disparate-treatment provision requires Elauf to show that Abercrombie (1) “fail[ed] . . . to hire” her (2) “because of “ (3) “[her] religion” (including a religious practice). 42 U. S. C. §2000e–2(a)(1). And its “because of” standard is understood to mean that the protected characteristic cannot be a “motivating factor” in an employment decision. §2000e–2(m). Thus, rather than imposing a knowledge standard, §2000e–2(a)(1) prohibits certain motives, re­gardless of the state of the actor’s knowledge: An employer may not make an applicant’s religious practice, confirmed or otherwise, a fac­tor in employment decisions. Title VII contains no knowledge re­quirement. Furthermore, Title VII’s definition of religion clearly in­ dictates that failure-to-accommodate challenges can be brought as disparate-treatment claims. And Title VII gives favored treatment to religious practices, rather than demanding that religious practices be treated no worse than other practices.

All employees are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Ohio R.C. § 4112.02(A) from being discriminated against or retaliated against by their employers on the basis of their religion. Specifically, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits religious discrimination in hiring, promotion, discharge, pay, fringe benefits, job training, classification, referral, and other aspects of employment, on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Similarly, Ohio R.C. § 4112.02 prohibits discrimination based on religion as well.

If you feel that you are being discriminated or harassed based on your religion or religious beliefs or that you were wrongfully terminated because of you are Jewish, Muslim, Mormon, Hindu or any other religion, the best course of action you can take is to call the right attorney at 866-797-6040 to schedule a free and confidential consultation. At Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm, you will meet with a religious discrimination attorney, who will be able to tell you what your legal rights are and the best way to protect them.


The materials available at the top of this religious discrimination blog and at this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you are still asking, “How do I …”, “What should I do …,” “Can my boss discriminate against me because I’m (Jewish/Muslim/Mormon/Hindu)?” or “I was fired for my religious beliefs. The answer to “What can I do?”, is to contact an Ohio attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular religious discrimination or other employment law issue or problem. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.

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