By Bob Allen / Baptist News Global
This is an abbreviated version of the story. For the full story, click here.
In a closely watched case argued Feb. 25, a Baptist religious-liberty group urged the U.S. Supreme Court to allow a Muslim woman to wear a religious head-covering to work.
The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, a Washington-based organization representing a distinctly Baptist defense of religious liberty and the separation of church and state, is among a number of religious and civil-liberties groups siding with a Muslim teenager denied a retail job at Abercrombie & Fitch because of her hijab, a headscarf she believes her faith requires her to wear.
Holly Hollman, general counsel for the BJC, which filed a legal brief in the case Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, said religious belief should not disqualify anyone from employment.
“In many employment contexts, an individual’s religious needs can be met more easily than an employer first assumes,” Hollman said. “This case is about making sure prospective employees are not categorically disqualified from work opportunities based upon religion.”
In 2008 Samantha Elauf, a 17-year-old Palestinian-American, interviewed for a job at an Abercrombie Kids Store in Tulsa, Okla., while wearing her hijab. She wasn’t hired because a store supervisor said the headscarf violated the company’s “look policy,” which forbids sales staff from wearing hats or black clothing.
The BJC brief said it should have been obvious to store managers that it was a religious head-covering and that the person conducting the interview was in a better position to know company policy than a 17-year-old job applicant.
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