Abercrombie hates your hijab

A Muslim employee says she was fired for refusing to take off her headscarf

Published February 25, 2010 9:16PM (EST)

Hijabs are sooo not hot this season -- or, like, ever -- if you ask Abercrombie and Fitch. A 19-year-old Muslim employee at one of the company's Hollister stores in Northern California learned that the hard way: losing her job. But now the Council on American-Islamic Relations has filed an official complaint on her behalf against the company.

Khan says she was promised her headscarf wouldn't be a problem during her interview for a part-time position in the stock room (which it's rumored is where they keep all the less-than-desirables) but trouble arose when a district manager visited the store this month. "The lady told me that my hijab was not in compliance with the 'look policy' and that they don't wear any scarves or hats while working," she told KTVU. "I told her it was for religious reasons and again she stated it was against their 'look' policy." Khan refused to go uncovered and she was fired on Monday. 

This comes as no surprise, given that just a few months ago, a Muslim teenager sued the clothier for allegedly refusing to hire her because of her headscarf. It would be an understatement to say that the company isn't really into displays of modesty, no matter if it has a religious basis. Have you seen the half-naked beefcakes they put in the front of A&F's retail stores during the holiday season, or the innumerable naked romps models have taken through the pages of its look book? And, more important, Abercrombie has a storied past of discriminating against those who don't fit its narrowly-defined vision of all-American beauty. 

Last year, a British employee sued A&F after her prosthetic arm was deemed inappropriate for the sales floor. In 2004, the clothier handed over $40 million to settle a federal lawsuit alleging that the company discriminated against minority employees. There are plenty of other cases of employment discrimination, not to mention offensive merchandise -- remember those racist t-shirts? In A&F's alternate universe, the men have washboard abs and crunchy highlighted hair, the women have freckled noses, tiny waists and perpetual beach-hair, and everyone has lily white skin (or at least they did before becoming regulars at the tanning salon). I wonder just how many lawsuits and complaints it will take to crush this false reality.

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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