Hani Kahn is suing Abercrombie & Fitch, alleging that she was fired from her job in a Hollister stockroom for wearing her Hijab, or head scarf.
Kahn maintains that she worked "behind the scenes" in a Hollister stockroom for four months, wearing her head scarf while every day while she did so. The store manager had no problem with it when she was hired for the position, but after four months, a district manager and human resources took umbrage and and fired Kahn for refusing to remove the garment. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a discrimination lawsuit against Abercrombie & Fitch, the parent company that owns Hollister.
"No worker should have to choose between their religion and a job," said attorney Araceli Martinez-Olgui.
Kahn said she's received death threats since going public with her story, which I would guess stems more from the controversial religious aspect of the case and less from homicidal fans of overpriced 100% cotton button-downs.
"We are committed to providing equal employment opportunities to all individuals regardless of race, religion or ethnicity. We comply with the law regarding reasonable religious accommodation," Abercrombie said in a statement.
There are two things that bother me about that statement. One is the first sentence: A&F settled a $40 million discrimination lawsuit brought against the company by minority employees and job applicants in 2004, so their commitment is already suspect.
Secondly, what's so unreasonable about an employee who doesn't work on the floor of the company wearing a head scarf? I get that Hollister wants to maintain their lofty standards of padded bikinis for eight-year-olds, and a pure, unadulterated, Caucasian workforce, but what's the harm of allowing an employee to wear a religious garment working in a position that already has her hidden from the public eye?
Hollister does a lot of their advertising based on certain classic aspects of America: beaches, barbecues, and blondes. But, with two lawsuits of the same basic nature under their hand-tooled, pre-distressed leather belts, it's clear that they're only comfortable with the sexy, shallow America, not the one we all have an equal stake in, regardless of color or creed.