Muslims vs. Abercrombie and Fitch

Over the years, the popular teen clothing retailer Abercrombie and Fitch has struggled and caused much controversy over their discrimination in processes of hiring and firing. CEO Michael Jeffries has stated several times that he desires “beautiful and skinny shoppers” to wear his clothes and that this retailer targets the popular kids, not the “fat and unpopular” ones. This statement served as his explanation as to why he refuses to allow XL and XXL sizes to be sold in his stores. If you think these statements made by Jeffries are bad enough, Abercrombie and Fitch not only discriminates against overweight shoppers, but they discriminate against Muslims as well.


Abercrombie and Fitch CEO Michael Jeffries.


In 2008, Samantha Elauf nailed her interview with Abercrombie and Fitch in Tulsa, Oklahoma for a part time sales job as a “model” (a worker who stands around the store wearing the retailers clothing, while folding clothes and assisting customers) when she was 17 years old. During her interview with Heather Cooke, Elauf was wearing a black hijab, since she is a practicing Muslim and had worn a Hijab since she was 13 years old. After the interview ended, Cooke then discussed with the district manager about Elauf, and her concerns with the hijab, stating that she believed it was worn for religious reasons. This fact caused the district manager to refuse to hire Elauf because employees were not allowed to wear “hats” while at work. It was Cooke’s responsibility to ask Elauf about the hijab and if it was worn for religious reasons during the interview, and not doing so violated the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines.


Samantha Elauf pictured happy after winning her case against Abercrombie and Fitch, saying she won it for “all Muslim women.”


As a result of this discrimination, the EEOC sued Abercrombie and Fitch on Elauf’s behalf. The argument that Abercrombie had decided to defend themselves with was this:

“It is undisputed that Samantha Elauf did not inform Abercrombie that her religious beliefs required her to wear a headscarf when she was at work. It is axiomatic that an employer must have actual notice that an applicant’s mandatory religious practices conflict with an employment requirement,” attorneys for the company argued.

The EEOC views Abercrombie’s defense as invalid considering that if a company acquires “actual knowledge” of an employee’s religious beliefs, then that causes the interviewee to be vulnerable to discrimination from that company. The EEOC also believes that companies should not require potential employees to disclose information on their religion, and that shared information should be voluntary.

The retailer has been in much hot water with their discrimination against the headscarf being worn during work, and has lost several cases relating to this matter. Other cases that occurred in California included Halla Banafa and Umme-Hani Khan, both who were either not hired or fired for wearing their hijab during their interview or on the job. These cases were awarded $71,000 in September of 2013.

Abercrombie and Fitch has not been successful lately due to the fact that the company’s target customers are unrealistic and the clothing being sold is unnecessarily expensive. What do you think about Abercrombie’s defense in the case of Samantha Elauf? Do you think it should be required for companies to know a potential employee’s religious beliefs? It is a relief to me that this company has been struggling lately in sales because they deserve to get a taste of their own medicine.


A photo of the customer Abercrombie and Fitch desires.



Glenza, J. (2014, October 2). The Guardian News. Supreme court to rule on Abercrombie & Fitch ‘religious bias’ over hijab. Retrieved October 27, 2014, from

Murray, R. (2013, May 9). Abercrombie & Fitch targets skinny shoppers, won’t sell larger sizes for plus-sized women . NY Daily News. Retrieved October 27, 2014, from


4 thoughts on “Muslims vs. Abercrombie and Fitch

  1. I don’t understand how Abercrombie and Fitch continues to think they are going to be as successful as they have been in the past when they keep making these bold, ridiculous comments. I would think that as a business owner, you would want to expand your field of customers rather than continually minimize it down to a select group. Not only does it offend people and make them not want to shop there, literally so many people cannot fit into the clothes. It’s even more that the owner doesn’t recognize cultural differences.

  2. I’ve always had problems with Abercrombie’s “target market” because as you stated, it’s unrealistic and highly judgmental. It’s absolutely ridiculous to only allow skinny, popular people to wear your clothes. As more and more people realized this, their sales began to drop. They’re ineffectively attempting to control their customers by producing only small sizes, as well as certain colors. They’re also notorious for only allowing the “perfect” men and women to work for their company.

    What Samantha experienced was unfair, yet sadly not shocking based on Abercrombie’s standards. I think their company needs to work on accepting a larger market. They should not be turning people away based on their religion and I do not think it’s necessary for employees to notify their boss of their religious beliefs before starting their job. Samantha should not have had a problem getting this job in the first place, and I’m happy to see that she stood up for her rights as well as many others who have tried working at Abercrombie in the past.

  3. This article is awesome. I remember reading an article awhile ago about A&F CEO and thinking is this man an insane person? I’m glad to see my assumptions were proven true. Its interesting that the company honestly thought they could win this case in court. That is a clear form of discrimination. This company is bound to go out of business if they honestly think their business model of not making XL and XLL clothing is a good one. They need to be good to all their customers. That poor girl. I’m sure she was happy she followed through in going to court. Again really interesting awesome article!

  4. I think a group of young social activists who are not ultra-thin or part of the “In crowd” should constantly plague Michael Jeffries at all of his public appearances wearing ripped, baggy clothing and hat-scarfs all while moaning and groaning like undead zombies. That would be “Way Cool!” Hey all you Cosplayers, reality performers and Walking Dead fans out there, here’s your new cause!

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