Someone didn’t get the memo reminding managers that it’s illegal to fire an employee for wearing a religious headscarf. The U.S. Supreme Court said so in June, deciding EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch, a case that has been making headlines for several years. (See “Hijab case dismissed after 7 years, Supreme Court ruling.”)
Yet Rotten Ralph’s, a popular Philadelphia restaurant, has been sued by the EEOC, which alleges that the eatery violated federal law when it refused to allow a Muslim server to wear a religious headscarf as a reasonable accommodation of her religious beliefs and instead fired her.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, when Tia Rollins applied for a server position at Rotten Ralph’s in 2013, she told the general manager that she did not wear revealing clothing and that she covered her hair because of her religion. Rollins’ religious beliefs require her to wear a khimar, a head scarf, especially during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
After Rollins was hired, she wore her khimar to work without incident until the first time the general manager saw her wearing it. The EEOC charges that the general manager was outraged by the scarf—he said employees weren’t allowed to wear “hoodies” on the job. He fired Rollins.
In EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch, the Supreme Court held that an employer may not refuse to hire an applicant if the employer was motivated by avoiding the need to accommodate a religious practice.
According to the Supreme Court, “to accommodate a religious practice is straightforward: An employer may not make an applicant’s religious practice, confirmed or otherwise, a factor in employment decisions.”
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