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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
731 F.3d 1106 (10th Cir. 2013)


Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc. (Abercrombie) (defendant) was a clothing company that marketed itself as a preppy and casual brand. Abercrombie required its employees, who were called Models, to promote the Abercrombie style of clothing by adhering to Abercrombie’s Look Policy. The Look Policy required Models to wear clothing similar to clothing sold in Abercrombie stores and forbade black clothing and caps. Samantha Elauf, a Muslim, applied for a Model position with Abercrombie. Prior to applying, Elauf had inquired whether Models would be permitted to wear a hijab while working. An assistant manager with Abercrombie suggested that Elauf would be permitted to wear a hijab as long as the hijab was not black. Elauf interviewed with an assistant manager, Heather Cooke, while wearing a black headscarf. Cooke described some of the requirements of the Look Policy but did not discuss Elauf’s headscarf during the interview, although Cooke did assume that Elauf wore the headscarf in accordance with the Muslim religion. Elauf did not at any time inform Cooke that she wore her headscarf for religious reasons or that she would need an accommodation. Ultimately, Abercrombie did not hire Elauf, as her headscarf was inconsistent with the Look Policy. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) (plaintiff) sued Abercrombie pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. The EEOC argued that Abercrombie had refused to accommodate Elauf’s religious beliefs by making an exception to the Look Policy. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the EEOC. Abercrombie appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Holmes, J.)

Concurrence/Dissent (Ebel, J.)

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