A federal judge has ruled that Abercrombie & Fitch was wrong when they fired a female Muslim employee of one of its Bay-area stores for insisting on wearing a hijab, which is a scarf that covers the head. The company argued that the hijab she wore violated its marketing strategy. The judge, however, found that there was no creditable evidence that the headgear affected the store’s sales and said it was a case of employment discrimination.

The case began back in 2010 when the Muslim woman was fired from Abercrombie’s San Mateo store. In 2011, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a suit on behalf of the woman. A trial on the amount of damages is scheduled for late September. The judge said the jury in that case will be allowed to award punitive damages.

This is not the first time a lawsuit has been filed against Abercrombie over its “look policy,” which some critics feel means employees must be white and athletic in appearance. In 2004, the company settled $40 million on a class action suit brought by black, Latino and Asian job applicants and employees. Abercrombie didn’t admit any wrongdoing in the case and claims it does not tolerate discrimination.

If an individual feels he or she has been fired for their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, it may be useful to allow an attorney with experience in employment matters to review the case. An attorney may be able to offer advice on whether or not the case qualifies as workplace discrimination and may be able to offer suggestions on how best to proceed to possibly recover damages. In some cases, it may be possible to negotiate a settlement that allows for lost wages and punitive damages.

Source: Fresno Bee, “Judge: Abercrombie wrongly fired Muslim for hijab”, Paul Elias, September 09, 2013