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Supreme Court to hear Abercrombie & Fitch discrimination case

Employees and employers alike often want to find a swift and acceptable resolution to any dispute. Employees typically don't want to endure a lengthy and costly trial, while employers generally want to resolve matters before the dispute begins to affect their business and reputation.

However, there are some matters that are very complicated; cases where it is extremely difficult to determine if a violation even occurred. These can be frustrating for both sides, but they can also be quite important in the larger legal picture. One such case has recently grabbed headlines now that it will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. 

The case involves a female job seeker and clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch. According to reports, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission stepped in and filed a suit against Abercrombie & Fitch after the retailer denied the woman a job because she wore a headscarf.

The retailer has notoriously strict employment rules, including a dress code on which the company places significant importance. The EEOC argues, however, that the dress code prohibits employees from wearing anything religious. In this case, the woman wore a headscarf, or hijab, which the company said violated their dress code.

The company argues that they would have made an exception for the worker if she had specified that she required an accommodation because the headscarf served religious purposes. However, because she didn't, the company did not feel they should be obligated to allow the dress code violation.

Lower courts have gone back and forth on a ruling in this case, and now it will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. The outcome could significantly affect other similar cases. 

This is just one example of how complex employment disputes can be. Of course, most cases will not be heard at this level; in fact, many cases can be and are resolved before they ever reach a courtroom. Every case is different, and every party has different goals and expectations that must be considered when developing a legal strategy. Rather than trying to navigate this complicated system alone, it can be wise to consult an attorney who understands Florida and federal employment laws.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Abercrombie's Religious Headscarf Battle Heads To Supreme Court," Kim Bhasin, Oct. 2, 2014

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