A Muslim woman has lodged a complaint with federal officials after she said she was fired from her job at a San Mateo clothing store for refusing to remove her hijab, or head scarf.
Hani Khan, 19, of Foster City said she was fired Monday at the Hollister clothing store at the Hillsdale Shopping Center. She was dismissed a week after a district manager visited the store, called her into a meeting and said she was not supposed to wear the scarf while at work, said Khan, who is of Indian and Pakistani descent.
A representative from human resources joined the meeting by phone, and Khan said she had been told that she was in violation of the store’s “look policy.”
“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.”
Khan contacted the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim advocacy group. On Tuesday, the organization filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Abercrombie & Fitch, which operates Hollister stores.
Zahra Billoo, a spokeswoman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Khan’s firing was “unconscionable.” “Firing someone explicitly for a religious reason or practice is, in our view, against the law,” Billoo said.
In September, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Abercrombie & Fitch for allegedly discriminating against a 17-year-old Muslim in Oklahoma by refusing to hire her because she wore a hijab. The case is pending.
See also Tracy Clark-Flory, “Abercrombie hates your hijab”, Salon.com, 25 February 2010
And “Fired Calif. Muslim Abercrombie Employee Threatened”, CAIR news release, 25 February 2010