June 16, 2019

Archives for October 4, 2013

Tenth Circuit: Religious Accommodation Requires Employee Inform Employer of Belief and Need for Accommodation

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals published its opinion in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc. on Tuesday, October 1, 2013.

Abercrombie & Fitch (“Abercrombie”) appealed from the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and the court’s denial of summary judgment in favor of Abercrombie, on the EEOC’s claim that Abercrombie failed to provide a reasonable religious accommodation for a prospective employee, Samantha Elauf, in contravention of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Elauf was friends with an employee at the Abercrombie store and asked her if wearing a hijab (a headscarf) to work would be permissible, as she wanted to apply for a job at that store. After asking an assistant manger about the hijab, the friend told Elauf it should not be a problem as long as the hijab was not black, as sales people were not allowed to wear black clothing as it conflicts with Abercrombie’s “Look Policy.”

A different assistant manager, Ms. Cooke, interviewed Elauf for the job and initially scored her high enough to have been hired. During the course of the interview, Elauf never informed Cooke that she was Muslim, never brought up the subject of her headscarf, and never indicated that she wore the headscarf for religious reasons and that she felt obliged to do so, and thus would need an accommodation to address the conflict between her religious practice and Abercrombie’s clothing policy. Cooke had seen Elauf in the store before wearing a hijab and assumed she wore it for religious reasons because she was Muslim, although she did not have actual knowledge. Cooke sought advice from the district manager about whether Elauf’s wearing a hijab would be a problem. He told Cooke not to hire her because wearing the hijab was inconsistent with the Look Policy.

A prima facie religion accommodation case “requires the employee to ‘show that (1) he or she had a bona fide religious belief that conflicts with an employment requirement; (2) he or she informed his or her employer of this belief; and (3) he or she was fired [or not hired] for failure to comply with the conflicting employment requirement.’” The Tenth Circuit held that it was not enough that Abercrombie may have had notice; because Elauf had not explicitly informed Abercrombie before its hiring decision that her practice of wearing a hijab was based upon her religious beliefs and that she needed an accommodation for that practice, due to a conflict between it and Abercrombie’s clothing policy, she failed to make out a prima facie case.

The Tenth Circuit reversed the district court’s denial of summary judgment in favor of Abercrombie and reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the EEOC. It remanded the case to the district court with instructions to vacate its judgment and enter judgment in favor of Abercrombie. Judge Ebel dissented from the grant of summary judgment to Abercrombie.



Colorado Court of Appeals: Announcement Sheet, 10/3/13

On Thursday, October 3, 2013, the Colorado Court of Appeals issued no published opinion and 36 unpublished opinions.

Neither State Judicial nor the Colorado Bar Association provides case summaries for unpublished appellate opinions. The case announcement sheet is available here.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 10/3/13

On Thursday, October 3, 2013, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinions and four unpublished opinions.

Newland v. Sebelius

Frederick v. Metropolitan State College

Cosenza-Cruz v. Holder

Andersen v. Colvin

No case summaries are provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.