The only stipulation at the time of the interview was that Hani Khan's hijab bear the official company colors of navy, gray and white, which Khan indicated it did.
Kahn, who studies political science at the College of San Mateo, California, was hired part-time as a stockroom worker in the Hollister clothing store in the Hillsdale Shopping Center. She told the San Francisco Chronicle that her direct supervisors had no issue with her hijab. All was well until a district manager visited the store and communicated to her that the hijab violated the store's "look policy." A week later Kahn was fired.
"I thought it was quite unfair," Khan said in an interview. "It was really surprising, especially in the Bay Area, because everybody's so open-minded and accepting of everybody. It's really surprising to see blatant discrimination against someone who is of an Islamic state who is wearing a hijab."
Kahn is of Indian and Pakistani descent.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim advocacy group, filed a complaint on February 23 with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against Abercrombie & Fitch, which owns Hollister. Zahra Billoo, a spokeswoman for the Council, said Khan's firing was "unconscionable… Firing someone explicitly for a religious reason or practice is, in our view, against the law."
The EEOC had already taken Abercrombie & Fitch to task on another occasion, when it sued the company back in September in a discrimination case against a 17-year-old Muslim over the same issue. The case, originating in Oklahoma, is pending.
Earlier, a disabled student won a wrongful dismissal case against the company. Riam Dean claimed she was forced to work behind the scenes in a stockroom because she has a prosthetic arm.
In Scotland, Abercrombie & Fitch has come under fire for launching a recruitment drive for "cool, good-looking people" at one of its stores.