Large Court Leans Toward Spiritual Safety In Headscarf Scenario

Enlarge this imageSamantha Elauf outside the house the Supreme Court Wednesday.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Imageshide captiontoggle captionChip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesSamantha Elauf outside the house the Supreme Courtroom Wednesday.Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesAt the U.S. Supreme Court docket, you recognize that it’s intending to become a incredibly hot argument if the normally straight-faced Justice Samuel Alito commences a matter this way: “Let’s say four persons exhibit up for your work interview … this really is about to audio just like a joke, but it truly is not.” The problem right before the court docket on Wednesday was regardle s of whether retailer Abercrombie & Fitch violated the federal law banning religious discrimination when it rejected a highly rated position applicant because she wore a Muslim headband. Alito’s hypothetical continued this fashion: The first of the 4 applicants to show up at Abercrombie is a Sikh man wearing a turban; the second is a Hasidic man wearing a hat; the third is a Muslim woman wearing a hijab; the fourth is a Catholic nun in a habit. Now, Alito asked Patrick Kane Jersey Abercrombie’s lawyer: “Do you think that those men and women have to say, we just want to tell you, we’re dre sed this fashion to get a religious reason? We’re not just trying to make a fashion statement.” Or, might we reasonably conclude that Abercrombie knows why they are dre sed that way?LawAt Supreme Court docket, Fashion Collides With Religion In Headband Circumstance Not surprisingly, Abercrombie’s lawyer fudged his answer. The situation just before the court arose when Samantha Elauf, then 17, applied to get a career at an Abercrombie Kids store in Tulsa, Okla. She was interviewed by an a sistant manager, given a large score and recommended for hiring. But the a sistant manager alerted her superiors to the fact that Elauf wore a headband, telling them that she a sumed the scarf was worn for religious reasons. Ultimately, the hiring recommendation went to a regional manager, who ordered Elauf’s score downgraded because of the headscarf, and she wasn’t offered a task. Abercrombie defends its action, citing its so-called Look Policy, which bans caps and black clothing. Elauf’s dre s for the job interview a T-shirt and jeans fit well with that policy, which is described as “cla sic East Coast collegiate style of clothing.” But her scarf did not fit at all. The policy does not allow caps, terming them “too informal for the image we project.” Abercrombie maintains that if Elauf wanted a spiritual exception allowing her to wear her scarf, it was up to her to make the case at the time of her job interview. Elauf responds that she didn’t even know about the Look Policy, and that deliberately downgrading an otherwise highly rated applicant because of a religious practice violates the federal law banning spiritual discrimination in employment.Code SwitchSupreme Court Looks At Abercrombie & Fitch’s Hijab Discrimination Case The Equal Employment Opportunity Commi sion agreed with Elauf. And on Wednesday, Deputy Solicitor General Ian Gershengorn told the Supreme Court that when an employer has reason to believe that an applicant will need a spiritual accommodation, that’s enough to put the employer on notice and to trigger a conversation about no matter if a spiritual accommodation would be po sible. “I think that may promote stereotypes to a far greater degree,” interjected Chief Justice John Roberts. “Let’s say you have someone of Middle Eastern appearance who shows up for the job interview with a beard.” The employer doesn’t like beards, but it would be inviting litigation to ask whether the beard is religious. The government’s Gershengorn replied that the New York Yankees have a policy against facial hair, but that doesn’t prevent them from pursuing free agents who wear beards; they a sume that those free agents can shave once they get to the Yankees. “You could avoid these hard questions,” insisted Justice Antonin Scalia, if you adopt the rule that, as an applicant, “the burden is on you to say, I’m wearing the headband for your religious reason.” Several justices suggested that the easy way to deal with the problem is for the interviewer to say something like, “We have a no-beards policy, or a no-headscarf policy; would you have a problem with that?” The government’s Gershengorn said that is exactly the kind of query that would begin a conversation about religious accommodation, and it is what Congre s intended in the first place by pa sing this law. Abercrombie’s lawyer, Shay Dvoretzky, however, maintained that the burden is on the applicant, prompting Justice Alito’s four-people-walk-into-an-interview hypothetical. Justice Elena Kagan followed with her own hypothetical. “Suppose an employer just doesn’t want to hire any Jews, and somebody walks in and his name is Noah Goldberg, and he looks kind of Jewish and the employer doesn’t know he’s Jewish … and certainly Mr. Goldberg CM Punk Jersey doesn’t say anything about being Jewish, but the employer just operates on the a sumption that he’s Jewish,” and so Goldberg doesn’t get the occupation. “That has got for being against the law, right?” Kagan asked, as the audience in the courtroom began to laugh. Lawyer Dvoretzky contended Abercrombie’s situation is different because there was no intent to discriminate; there was just a neutral no-caps policy that applies to a baseball cap or a headscarf. “Or a yarmulke,” interjected Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.The problem with that argument, she said, is that the federal law “doesn’t require accommodating baseball caps, but it does require accommodating religious practices.” Chief Justice Roberts echoed that sentiment, telling Dvoretzky that his argument “doesn’t work in a situation like this. It is not a matter, are you treating everybody the same. You have an obligation to accommodate folks with particular spiritual practice or beliefs. ” Added Justice Kagan, “If you are, in fact, wearing a headband for spiritual reasons,” then Abercrombie’s “neutral policy [against caps] really doesn’t matter.” If Elauf prevails in this situation, Kagan observed, the result would be what some might think of as an “awkward conversation” about why she wears a headband and regardle s of whether she would seek a religious accommodation. But the alternative, Kagan noted, “is a rule where Abercrombie just gets to say, we’re gonna stereotype folks and prevent them from getting jobs.” “Now, between those two options,” she asked, which one “is the worse problem?” As the arguments came to a close, there didn’t seem to be much doubt about which option the court will pick.