New York, NY, June 1, 2015 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today applauded a U.S. Supreme Court decision which broadly ruled that employers cannot consider an applicant’s religious practices in hiring or other employment decisions.
In the case called EEOC v. Abercrombie, the Court also confirmed that a neutral employer policy such as a “no-headwear” policy cannot trump the need for a religious accommodation unless there is an undue hardship. This case concerned a Muslim woman, Samantha Elauf, who wore a religious head covering called a hijab and applied for a sales position at Abercrombie & Fitch. Although her interviewer believed she was well-qualified for the position, Abercrombie ultimately did not offer Ms. Elauf the position because her hijab was inconsistent with the company’s “Look Policy.”
“We have long believed that an individual’s religion should never be a factor in employment decisions,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “It was wrong for Abercrombie to reject Ms. Elauf simply because she wore a hijab, and we applaud the Supreme Court’s decision finding that an employer may not consider religion, including an employee’s religious practice, when hiring or in other employment decisions.”
“We share Justice Scalia’s view that while the law certainly permits employers to have generally neutral policies, like a “no-headwear” policy, employers cannot simply refuse to hire candidates because they wear yarmulkes, hijabs, turbans or other religious head coverings,” said Barry Curtiss-Lusher, ADL National Chair. “Rather, employers must make efforts to accommodate individuals’ religious beliefs.”
ADL joined an amicus brief emphasizing the importance of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act's protection against religious discrimination, explaining how the Tenth Circuit's rule undermined Title VII's central purpose.