Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE: ANF) is being sued by a Muslim teenager who wanted to work at an Abercrombie Kids store in Oklahoma's Woodland Hills Mall. When she applied in June 2008, Samantha Elauf was told that the hijab she wears is inconsistent with Abercrombie's "Look Policy." So, the 17-year-old took her concerns to U.S. District Court on Wednesday, where a lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
A spokeswoman for the retailer wouldn't comment on the lawsuit but did indicate that the store has a strong policy around equal employment opportunity and that it accommodates religious practices "when possible."
In this case, the EEOC thinks it was possible and is seeking back pay and a permanent injunction against Abercrombie & Fitch from engaging in (what the EEOC says is) discriminatory employment practices. Also being pursued are monetary and non-monetary losses because of "emotional pain, suffering, anxiety, loss of enjoyment of life, humiliation and inconvenience." The suit also indicates that the plaintiff is looking for punitive damages.
This sort of action isn't completely new to Abercrombie & Fitch, which settled a lawsuit by the EEOC in 2004 – paying $50 million in a case where the company was accused of promoting whites ahead of minorities and developing an image that was almost all white.