The Supreme Court indicated Wednesday it will side with a Muslim woman who didn’t get hired by clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch because she wore a black headscarf that conflicted with the company’s dress code to her job interview.
Liberal and conservative justices aggressively questioned the company’s lawyer during arguments at the high court in a case that deals with when an employer must take steps to accommodate the religious beliefs of a job applicant or worker.
Applicant Samantha Elauf did not say she was wearing the scarf for religious reasons. But Justice Samuel Alito seemed to speak for many on the bench when he said there was no reason not to hire her unless the company assumed she would wear a headscarf to work because of her religion.
Muslim, Christian and Jewish advocacy organizations have weighed in on Elauf’s side, as have gay-rights groups.
A legal brief on behalf of Orthodox Jews argues that requiring job applicants to voice the need for religion-related special treatment makes them less likely to be hired, with no reason given for the decision. Orthodox Jews who wear a skullcap, or yarmulke, or who may not work on Saturdays are routinely advised to withhold that information until after they are hired, lawyer Nathan Lewin said in his Supreme Court filing.