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Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

Jon Allison

We Don’t Allow Hats.  You Got A Problem With That?
Last week the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Samantha Elauf and Abercrombie & Fitch.  Elauf was denied a job as a sales-floor employee because she wears a headscarf as a practicing Muslim.  Under Abercrombie’s “look policy” hats are forbidden.  The issue the Supreme Court must decide is whether Elauf had a duty to ask for a religious accommodation to Abercrombie’s policy allowing her to wear the headscarf or whether Abercrombie had a duty to offer one.
Abercrombie’s position is that it didn’t have to make an exception to its policy because Elauf didn’t tell Abercrombie she wore the headscarf for religious reasons, didn’t ask for a religious accommodation and Abercrombie’s handbook instructs managers not to ask candidates about their religion.
On the other hand, Elauf and other job candidates wouldn’t know Abercrombie policies and therefore wouldn’t know of any need to request an accommodation.  The reality is inferences about a person’s religion are often drawn by certain clothing items worn.  Abercrombie’s policy forbids hats not headscarves.  Its policy and others like it could easily be used to impermissibly deny employment when the real reason for the denial is the applicant’s religion.
Nearly all of the justices seemed to side with Elauf.  Justice Sotomayor suggested that the interviewer could have told Elauf of the no hat policy and asked if she had “a problem with that.”  This would have been an appropriate way to prompt Elauf to request an accommodation allowing her to wear the headscarf.  This case has received a lot of coverage. For more see the following articles from The Washington Post, CNN, Huffington Post.
Was I Not Hired Because Of My Age?
The vast majority of people who decide to talk to a lawyer about possible age discrimination have been terminated from a job or are experiencing problems in a job they currently hold.  What about looking into whether age discrimination may have been the reason a job applicant wasn’t hired?  Applicants should be paying attention to statements made and questions asked by the employer during the application process like “when do you plan to retire?” or “when did you graduate?”  Also, if a younger and less qualified applicant is chosen for hire over an older and more qualified applicant, age discrimination may be at work.  For more insights, see this article.
“Ban The Box” Adds Georgia
The policy known as “ban the box” refers to employment forms that ask about prior criminal convictions.  States and cities that have adopted the “ban the box” policy no longer require job applicants to disclose their criminal histories on these forms.  Supporters of the policy say it helps people with criminal records reintegrate into society.  Some states only apply the policy to those applying for state jobs whereas others apply it to the private sector as well.  This blog goes into further detail.

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