Title VII Argued Before Supreme Court

The clothing store Abercrombie & Fitch is currently engaged in a case against the EEOC before the Supreme Court regarding religious discrimination. The case centers around an Abercrombie employee who is required by her religion to wear a hijab. Under Title VII, notice is supposed to be given to the employer for religious accommodations, but what exactly constitutes "notice" is up for debate.

Employment Law Daily recently discussed this case and its broader implications and asked two members of the firm, David Wachtel and Lauren Mendonsa, to weigh in.

"The essential question the Court will review is whether an employee or job applicant has an affirmative obligation to provide her employer with actual notice that she requires a workplace accommodation because her religious observance or practice conflicts with her employer's policies," says Mendonsa.

While the question does not arise all that often, it leads to broader questions. Both Wachtel and Mendonsa raised concerns regarding the upcoming ruling. Wachtel poses the question "Is an employee better off making an explicit request or complaint, or raising an incendiary issue subtly to reduce the chance of unpleasantness or confrontation?" Mendonsa adds, "Requiring job applicants to start the accommodation conversation may also force some job applicants, out of an abundance of caution, to disclose to their potential employers religious beliefs or practices that have no bearing on the workplace, which, in turn, may invite judgment and stereotyping based on those beliefs and practices. The rule places workers in a Catch-22."

To prevent such occurrences, Wachtel suggests staying ahead of conflict through education. "This case shows how management training could keep many employers from accidentally ending up in court."

The full article can be found in the November 6th, Employment Law Daily Wrap-Up.