Employers in New Jersey and Across the U.S. May Not Engage in Religious Discrimination

A federal judge in San Francisco has ruled that clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch engaged in religious discrimination against a former employee. According to a lawsuit filed by the nation’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2011, the company fired a female Muslim worker for refusing to remove her hijab during work hours. The former worker claims she wore a hijab to the job interview and to work after initially employed by a San Mateo Hollister store. Months later, the company allegedly told the woman the head scarf violated the company’s policy regarding how an employee should look and terminated her. In June, the federal judge who heard the case reportedly criticized Abercrombie & Fitch for failing to provide evidence that the worker’s hijab caused the company to lose revenue. A damages award has not yet been determined.

This is not the first time Abercrombie & Fitch has been accused of illegal discrimination. In 2011, the company lost a wrongful termination lawsuit that was filed against it by another Muslim employee who was apparently fired for refusing to remove her hijab. Earlier this year, Abercrombie & Fitch also lost a disability discrimination lawsuit related to lack of wheelchair access at the company’s Hollister stores. A federal judge gave the company until 2017 to build handicapped accessible store fronts.

Although this situation occurred in California, New Jersey employers are also required to make reasonable accommodations for workers with regard to religious needs. In general, discrimination has occurred if an employer fails to make religious accommodations that do not have a major impact on business operations. Workers who were discriminated against in New Jersey have a right under both state and federal law to sue for damages. Before an employee may recover damages for discrimination, however, he or she must be part of a group that is protected by statute. Workers who suffered discrimination based upon their religion, gender, age, pregnancy status, military status, disability, race, and more may have a discrimination claim against an employer.

As this case demonstrates, employers often discriminate against protected classes of individuals by terminating, refusing to hire, demoting, or harassing them. In 2011, the EEOC filed approximately 2,000 employment discrimination lawsuits in the State of New Jersey. Of those cases, 89 involved alleged religious discrimination. If you were the victim of religious or other discrimination at your place of employment, you are advised to contact an experienced employment lawyer to discuss your rights.

The hardworking employment attorneys at the Resnick Law Group represent current and former employees in both New Jersey and New York regarding matters that involve unlawful workplace discrimination. To discuss your situation with a caring advocate, please contact the Resnick Law Group through our website or give us a call at 973-781-1204 or (646) 867-7997 today.

More Blog Posts:

Disabled Workers in New Jersey and Nationwide May Suffer Discrimination, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, August 27, 2013
Paramus Party Company Settles Sexual Harassment Case Filed on Behalf of Terminated Teen Worker, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, August 20, 2013
Additional Resources:

Abercrombie loses yet another discrimination lawsuit, by Jason Notte, money.msn.com


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