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Religion a core focus in U.S. Supreme Court employment law case

In a blog post that is both news-based and highly illustrative of a critically important employment law topic, we discuss today the recent oral argument before the United States Supreme Court focused upon the reason underlying a national retailer's refusal to hire a job applicant.

Following is a summary sketch of the material fact pattern before the court in a case that the justices will hear and rule upon in the court's upcoming term. A decision is expected later in the year.

In a nutshell, a young woman applying for a store sales position with Abercrombie & Fitch -- a well-known company that caters heavily to young people -- at an outlet in Oklahoma was reportedly deemed to be qualified for the job by her interviewer. Notwithstanding that assessment, though, the 17-year-old applicant was turned down for a position.

At issue is Abercrombie's reason for the denial. The company contends that it has a so-called "look policy" that disallows employees from wearing hats. The applicant is a Muslim female who wore a headscarf to her interview.

At first blush, both wings -- liberal and conservative -- on the nation's highest court seemed to decidedly align in their view that Abercrombie's denial was suspicious, that is, based on the young woman's religion, not the simple fact that she wore a head covering.

Reportedly, the Abercrombie interviewer never asked about the scarf, and the applicant never mentioned it or requested a special accommodation based upon religious reasons.

Discrimination based on a job applicant's religion, race, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age and other specified factors is flatly unlawful under both federal and state laws.

A Massachusetts job applicant or worker with questions or concerns regarding discrimination of any sort can obtain prompt answers and aggressive legal representation from a proven Boston employment law attorney.

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