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Can An Employer Terminate You For Not Being Attractive?

On Behalf of | Jun 4, 2015 | Firm News, Workplace Discrimination

An employer cannot terminate you because your race or religion does not fit in with its sexy marketing scheme – that would be a failure to accommodate and or discrimination.  

For example, Samantha Elauf, a Muslim woman, had an interview with Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F).  The employer was supposed to let her know when the employee orientation was going to take place–she never heard from them again.  She asked her friend, who worked there, if she knew why she had not heard back from them.  Her friend said it was because she had worn a hijab (headscarf) to the interview.

Samantha filed a federal claim with the EEOC and sued A&F for discrimination on the basis of religion.  The legal issue before the court was whether she had to request a religious accommodation to wear her hijab. EEOC contended that A&F knew or should have known she needed an accommodation.  A&F argued that she had to make a specific request because her hijab violated their “look policy,” a ban against wearing caps. In an 8 to 1 vote, the Supreme Court ruled in her favor.  

As of June 3, 2015, Samantha works for Urban Outfitters and wishes to continue her career in the fashion industry.  Meanwhile, A&F revised its dress code, eliminated “attractiveness” from its hiring policy, and changed the job title from “Model” to “Brand Representative.”  They’ve also granted requests for religious accommodations, including hijabs.  Samantha said the process has taught her to stand up for herself.  

Samantha’s case is very similar to the Yanowitz v. L’Oreal USA, Inc., case.  Yanowitz was a regional sales manager at L’Oreal. Her supervisor told her to fire a dark-skinned sales associate because he didn’t think she was attractive enough. As he walked past a young attractive blonde girl, he told Yanowitz, “God damn it, get me one that looks like that.”  Yanowitz refused to carry out the order and repeatedly asked for adequate justification to fire her. The sales associate was one of the top sellers in her area. As a result of the refusal, Yanowitz was subjected to heightened scrutiny and increasingly hostile adverse treatment that undermined her relationship with the employees she supervised and caused severe emotional distress that led her to leave her position. She then filed a claim for retaliation under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).

Our firm has helped many clients who wish to take a stand against workplace discrimination and bring about positive change for others. We’ve filed claims in federal court and in California, where the laws strongly protect your rights to wear turbans, beards, hijabs, or yarmulkes.  

Contact Bryant Whitten – Attorneys for Employees if you have questions.  If we take your case, it will be on a “contingency” basis, meaning you don’t pay unless we help you recover!



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