There have been several cases over the past few months about employers’ right to dictate whether their workers can wear headscarves for religious reasons, and on Monday, a California woman will add her complaint to the growing roster. Hani Khan, who worked in the stockroom of a Hollister store in San Mateo, and is planning to file a lawsuit against the store’s parent company, Abercrombie & Fitch, alleging that she was fired for refusing to take off her headscarf.
Khan, a college student living in the Bay Area, worked in the Hollister stockroom for over a year. During that time, she wore white, gray or navy headscarves, which she had agreed to do when she took the job. After a district manager visited the store, however, she was asked by the parent corporation to remove her headscarf, which apparently did not align with Hollister’s “look policy.” When she refused, she was fired.
In February 2010, Khan filed a federal complaint, with the help of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). When the case went public, Abercrombie & Fitch apparently offered her the job back, on condition that she stayed in the stockroom; she refused.
Now, with the help of the Legal Aid Society of San Francisco and the San Francisco district office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Khan is suing Abercrombie & Fitch. This certainly isn’t a new experience for the company, which has been charged in the past for many different kinds of discrimination.
In an interview last year, Khan took the company to task for claiming that it had a diverse, inclusive work environment. “Their policy says they do not discriminate, but that’s not true,” she said. ”I am proof of that. They don’t hire people with scarves to work in manager positions. The girls who do wear scarves, work in the back.”
You have to wonder how many lawsuits it will take before a store like Abercrombie & Fitch decides that its supposedly “all-American” look needs to be updated just a tad. It’s encouraging, however, to see people like Khan standing up for their rights and fighting against corporate entities that can seem so unjust, and yet so immovable.
Photo from Alan Denney’s Flickr photostream.