ADL Weighs in on Religious Discrimination in Workplace

Tells Supreme Court Issue Remains a “Serious Problem”

New York, NY, December 15, 2014 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch, Inc., a case that involves whether or not employees must be the ones to broach the topic of religious accommodations in the workplace, even if it is an obvious accommodation.

The brief argues that religious discrimination remains an issue and that anti-discrimination laws play a central role in securing equal opportunity. The 10th Circuit’s decision, finding that because the plaintiff failed to inform Abercrombie that she wore a hijab for religious reasons and therefore could not pursue her claim, undermines the central purpose of anti-discrimination laws and rewards willful blindness.

“Title VII of the Civil Rights Act provides essential protections for employees and prospective employees against religious discrimination, which remains a serious problem,” said Christopher Wolf, ADL Civil Rights Chair. “Efforts to erode those protections must be challenged.”

“The 10th Circuit’s decision would allow employers to simply pretend they don’t see or understand the significance of a Muslim woman’s headscarf or a Jewish man’s yarmulke and then be able to fire or fail to hire the employee because the ‘look’ doesn’t fit in or customers might be uncomfortable,” added Deborah M. Lauter, ADL Civil Rights Director. “The Court should not reward willful ignorance.”

ADL joined a coalition brief, prepared by Professor Douglas Laycock and the University of Virginia School of Law Supreme Court Litigation Clinic. Other signatories include the American Jewish Committee, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Jewish Social Policy Action Network, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Union for Reform Judaism, Central Conference of American Rabbis, and Women of Reform Judaism.

ADL is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of anti-Semitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online, ADL is the first call when acts of anti-Semitism occur. ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate.