Name Calling, Prayer Circle, and Social Shunning Help Revive Discrimination Claims

Reversing a decision it described as “replete with error,” the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has revived an employee’s claims of retaliation, and religion- and national origin-based hostile work environment.  Huri v. Office of the Chief Judge of the Circuit Cir. Ct. of Cook Cnty., No. 12-2217 (7th Cir. Oct. 21, 2015). Fozyia Huri, a Muslim from Saudi Arabia, began working for the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois in 2000.  Huri...
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Federal Court Permits Perceived Religion Claim To Proceed

Reasoning that discrimination based on an employer’s perception of an employee’s religion is no different than discrimination because of an employee’s actual religion, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan recently permitted an employee’s perceived religion discrimination claims to proceed to trial. Kallabat v. Michigan Bell Tel. Co., No. 2:2012-cv-15470 (E.D. Mich. June 18, 2015). Basil Kallabat began working...
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Abercrombie & Fitch maintains a dress code for employees known as its Look Policy. Headwear is not allowed under the policy because it is “too informal for Abercrombie’s desired image.” Samantha Elauf, a practicing Muslim who wears a headscarf, interviewed for an available position for which she was found to be qualified. Still, Elauf was not hired because the District Manager, who was told by another manager that she thought Elauf’s...
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Supreme Court Will Decide Head Scarf Case

The United States Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether Abercrombrie & Fitch's refusal to hire a Muslim job applicant who wore a religious head scarf to a job interview violated Title VII.  EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., U.S., No. 14-86, 10/2/14. The case arose after a 17 year old applicant wore a hijab - a religious head scarf - to an interview for a position in Abercrombie's Tulsa, Oklahoma store. During the interview, the...
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Gate of Heaven Closes Out Discrimination Claim By Raising Ministerial Exemption

Vickie Fisher was employed as the Co-Director of Gate of Heaven Cemetery, a Catholic cemetery owned and operated by Archdiocese of Cincinnati.  In fall 2010, a cemetery employee complained to the Archdiocese that Fisher and her compatriot were part of a scheme to sell damaged grave markers for scrap metal and distribute the cash proceeds to Gate of Heaven employees.  It was also alleged Fisher was using profanity in her dealings with employees. ...
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EEOC Issues New Guidance On Religious Dress And Grooming Standards

The EEOC recently published new technical assistance explaining its view of how federal employment discrimination law, specifically Title VII, applies to religious dress and grooming standards.  Employers may encounter many types of religious dress and grooming practices according to the EEOC, including:  (a) wearing religious clothing or articles (e.g., a Muslim hijab, a Sikh turban, or a Christian cross); (b) observing a prohibition on wearing...
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Court Rejects Hotel Room Discrimination Claim Without Reservations

Business trips are a fact of life for many employees.  Reserving hotel rooms for these trips is commonplace: either the employee or a company representative contacts the hotel, and the hotel then arranges a room for that guest based on its current availability.  In spite of this, a disgruntled individual recently tried to sue his former company based on little more than the room he was assigned during one such trip in Rahman v. Crystal Equation,...
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Employer Off The Hook For Not Accommodating Employee’s Religious Beliefs

The Fourth Circuit recently affirmed that a reasonable accommodation of an employee’s religious beliefs is not required if such accommodation would cause an undue hardship.  That is, an accommodation is not necessary if it would result in more than a de minimis cost to the employer.  EEOC v. Thompson Contracting, Grading, Paving, & Utils. Inc., No. 11-11897 (4th Cir.  Dec. 14, 2012) (unpublished). Banayah Yisrael worked for Thompson...
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