In February 2015, Samantha Elauf made news when she took a case to the Supreme Court, claiming she had been passed over for a job at a Tulsa Abercrombie & Fitchin 2008. She claimed she went into her interview wearing her hijab - a traditional headscarf that many Muslim women choose to wear as part of their religious practice - and that the manager interviewing her didn't hire her because of it.
While the courts weren't voting on whether the discrimination actually happened, they did vote on whether Elauf needed to out-right say she was Muslim during her interview and ask for "religious accommodations" to qualify under the protections of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (which keeps employers from discriminating against people for a number of reasons, including religious beliefs.)
Reuters reports that the judges say Elauf didn't need to verbally disclose that information to qualify for those protections and, because her headscarf was the deciding-factor for her not being hired, the discrimination still may have happened.
Abercrombie's lawyers argued that the clothing company couldn't have known to make the religious accommodations, since Elauf didn't say anything. But, in a nearly unanimous vote, (8-1 with Justice Clarence Thomas as the only dissenter) the court ruled that it didn't really matter.
It wasn't about whether the company knew Elauf needed this accommodation, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote later in an opinion for the 7 agreeing justices, it was about whether the headscarf was the reason Elauf wasn't hired.
Scalia wrote that "an employer who acts with the motive of avoiding [religious] accommodation" may still violate the Civil Rights Act, even if that employer only has suspicions that the individual might need that kind of accommodation. In this case, court documents say that a manager had correctly assumed that the hijjab was part Elauf's religious practice, and that she wore it regularly.
He added that even though a request for accommodations makes it easier to figure out if a decision is discriminatory, it shouldn't be necessary.
Reuters also reports that Abercrombie intends to explore more legal options in the future, stating that the courts did not determine that the discrimination actually took place.
While this decision doesn't necessarily mean it's the end of Elauf's marathon case, it's good to know that the courts don't think a company can claim ignorance as a defense - especially when a person is wearing her truth. And, until more develops, we can all just keep on drooling over Elauf's amazing Instagram and blog (because #StyleGoals.)