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Should this young woman have been fired?

Muslim Woman Who Refused to Remove Head Scarf at Work Deserved to Be Fired

Posted by Heather Murphy-Raines
on June 30, 2011 at 8:17 AM
Modesty and religious head scarfs known as hijabs are not what comes to mind when one thinks of teen fashion haven Hollister (a subsidiary of Abercrombie & Fitch). Rather, Hollister is known for its casual American beachy look -- micro shorts, tank tops, exposed midriffs, bare skin, and flip-flops.

And in fact, Hollister's corporate policy requires all its employees to adopt that look -- jeans, T-shirts, flip-flops -- while on the clock. When Hani Khan, a 20-year-old Muslim woman, was hired to work in the stockroom, the store manager said she could wear her hijab (in company colors). A district manager disagreed with that decision, and Khan was asked to remove her headscarf to comply with company policy. When she refused to do so, she was fired.

Usually, I would be right there defending Khan's right to wear and practice her religion as she chooses. However, I am flabbergasted at the inappropriate choice she made for employment in the first place. Hollister sells casual but very sexy clothing. Its employees, from sales clerks to stockers (who are occasionally seen in the front of the store), are required to represent that sexy, casual, beach look. A hijab as fashion simply does not say beachy. Khan shouldn't have been hired in the first place since her attire of choice didn't fit the company's image. Unfortunately, the store manager who hired her had either not been properly trained or simply chose to ignore the company policy.

Abercrombie states:

We are committed to providing equal employment opportunities to all individuals regardless of religion, race or ethnicity .... We comply with the law regarding reasonable religious accommodation.

This Type of Scarf Does WorkI latch on to that word reasonable. Is it reasonable that a company be forced to make allowances to a policy that is directly related to its business? As a teen I worked in a local JCPenney, where I was required to wear skirts and pantyhose at all times. It was part of the job -- no matter how much I hated it. When it got to be too much, I quit. The fact is, employees represent their retailer's look. Hollister has every right to enforce a dress code, and as one commenter on the web rightly or wrongly says:

They sell an image, not a religion of suppression. There's nothing sexy about that.

The same dress code should apply to Ms. Khan. While a "misinformed" store manager may have hired her in the first place, the district manager gave her the opportunity to comply with the company's dress code.

Hollister sells sexy. Hijabs are the opposite. They are a form of extreme modesty. This is simply just not a good fit. I am not certain why a conservative, modestly dressed young woman wanted to work at a company whose image is anything BUT conservative. Honestly, it sounds fishy ...

She's suing of course -- it's the American way when you don't get your way, isn't it?

She claims it's religious discrimination, but is it really religion-based discrimination to be prohibited from wearing an article of clothing that clashes with a retailer's dress code? Is it discrimination to be asked to comply with what every other employee is asked to wear? What if a model for Playboy or waitress from Hooters pulled the same stunt? What if a Victoria's Secret model showed up for a photo shoot in a full-body burka or Amish bonnet for that matter?

There's a point at which religious choices don't trump a company's right to advertise and sell its merchandise as it sees fit or to hire employees who best represent their style.

Some say this has nothing to do with religious discrimination, but is more about fitting into a corporate culture. Do you agree?

Answer Question

Asked by maggiebgood at 7:24 PM on Jun. 30, 2011 in Religious Debate

Level 14 (1,514 Credits)
Answers (33)
  • Its not religious discrimination. It's company policy.

    Answer by CassiRae3 at 7:27 PM on Jun. 30, 2011

  • I totally dont agree that this woman should have been fired. As a Christian I would be stunned if I was ordered not to wear my cross which I wear as a symbol of my faith.

    Comment by maggiebgood (original poster) at 7:27 PM on Jun. 30, 2011

  • i'd sue, too. she was hired 'as is'. end of story.

    btw..hollister/a&f clothing sucks, anyway. and a&f stinks of poo.

    Answer by dullscissors at 7:30 PM on Jun. 30, 2011

  • She wasn't singled out, it's company policy. I don't think it's discrimination if the "uniform" requirement is no head coverings for anybody.

    Answer by MrsMWF at 7:30 PM on Jun. 30, 2011

  • Companies have rules set in place for a reason. I'm sure if she had a necklace symbolizing her religion, of course that wouldn't be a problem, even a tattoo..I'm sure that wouldn't be a problem...but clothing is another story and it is company policy that they wear THEIR clothing.

    Answer by CassiRae3 at 7:31 PM on Jun. 30, 2011

  • I didn't read this whole post... but as a former reatail mamagers I'd say this... the manager should not have ok'd it with out checking with corporate first. Then when the manager was over ridden he should have had a back-bone and stood up for her! But, Company dress codes are what they are... if you can't follow them then you shouldn't work there. I feel sorry that young lady went thru that, but the manager never should have put her in that position in the first place!!


    Answer by Crafty26 at 7:35 PM on Jun. 30, 2011

  • I don't think she should have been fired. If she was wearing their clothing, etc. What does it matter if she was wearing her Hijab? Its a clothing store for goodness sake. And as a customer of Hollister, it wouldn't bother me seeing her wearing her Hijab. It wasn't hurting anyone. I am sure she was wearing it during her interview so, they were well aware of her religion before hiring her.

    Answer by amber1330 at 7:35 PM on Jun. 30, 2011

  • because the manager told her she could wear it, I have to say she should not have been fired. IF she was hired and told the scarf will go, she said OK I would be all on the side of the company.

    Answer by vntNyll at 7:36 PM on Jun. 30, 2011

  • So what if she wears one? I wouldnt find it a big deal, match your scarf to your cute hollister outfit, thats all I would have said.

    Answer by Ashleigh_17 at 7:36 PM on Jun. 30, 2011

  • I agree its silly and shouldn't matter BUT a company has to cover their butts in ALL avenues.

    Answer by CassiRae3 at 7:42 PM on Jun. 30, 2011

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