The Muslim group CAIR weighs in on the Oklahoma suit.
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Council on American-Islamic Relations has filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in a case involving a retailer that denied employment to an Oklahoman after she wore a religious head scarf to a job interview.
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled that an applicant or employee must provide direct, explicit notice of their religious observance or practice to trigger protections under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In 2008, Samantha Elauf, 17, applied for a job at the Abercrombie Kids store in a Tulsa shopping mall. She didn’t get the job after she wore a black hijab to the interview.
A district court ruled in her favor, but the appeals court ruled against her. The U.S. Supreme Court then announced it would hear the case.
“In this case, the Court has been asked to resolve legal issues that profoundly affect the ability of individuals who outwardly manifest their religion to obtain and secure employment,” the CAIR brief states.
“Although many Muslims display their Islamic faith through various dress and grooming practices, this is not an issue limited to one particular religion; many followers of several other faiths, such as Judaism and Sikhism, follow their respective religiously-motivated dress and grooming practices,” it says.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 ensures equality of employment opportunities by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of religion, the brief states.
An applicant’s religious views, and the need for the accommodation thereof, should not be part of the basis for an employment decision, it says, adding, “Muslim women who wear a hijab are following what they believe to be God’s command to be modest in their dress.”
The notice rule adopted by the appellate court places unreasonable burdens on job candidates, CAIR says in its brief.
The nation’s high court is expected to rule next year.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations is a Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization.