Category: Religious Discrimination

Fox Sports Sued for Religious Discrimination by Former Football Analyst

Craig James is suing the Fox Sports network for religious discrimination after only days of employment. This is not the first time James has caused waves or found himself in litigation, but this time, he is the plaintiff.

On August 29, 2013, James was hired by the network and made one appearance, but just days later, he was terminated. James’ hiring came only months after he had lost the Texas Senate Primary during which he had made comments on gay marriage and homosexuality.

During the 2012 debates for the election, James opined that homosexuality was a choice and those who choose said life would “have to answer to the Lord for their actions. We should not give benefits to those civil unions.” James referred to the accepting of homosexuality as “our moral fiber…sliding down a slope that is going to be hard to stop if we don’t stand up with leaders who don’t go ride in gay parades.” James finished the election in fourth garnering only 3.6% of the vote.

Upon James’ termination from Fox Sports, the company stated that they had failed to “properly vet” James before he was hired by regional level executives. To further, the company reasoned that James was fired “based on the perception that he abused a previous on-air position to further a personal agenda,” referring to a 2009 incident outlined below.

James is suing the network for at least a $100,000 in damages due to “lost friends, business relationships, and numerous business opportunities as a result of Fox Sports’ actions.” He alleges that he has been blacklisted after an embarrassingly short stint with the regional affiliate of Fox Sports.

“The case is much bigger than me…I will not let Fox Sports trample my religious liberty…I intend to make sure Fox Sports knows they aren’t above the law,” James said in a prepared statement.

Fox Sports is vehemently defending itself against the suit, stating James’ termination had nothing to do with his religious beliefs. They reasserted their previous position when he was first separated from the company.

This isn’t the first time James had to engage in a legal battle. In 2009, during a college football commentary, he alleged that the coach of the Texas Tech football team, Mike Leach, was mistreating his son Adam. Adam was a receiver for the team. Mike Leach was terminated after the commentary, but filed a defamation lawsuit against both James and ESPN, the network that aired the commentary. However, it was dismissed.

Source: LA Times, Washington Post

The Decision Has Been Made—Abercrombie & Fitch Liable for Discrimination

Earlier this year, we discussed a pending case against prep retailer, Abercrombie & Fitch. The company was being sued for religious discrimination against a Muslim female who wore a hijab to her employment interview. Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court made their choice.

The plaintiff, Samantha Elauf, wore a black head scarf when she first interviewed with the “classic East Coast collegiate style” retailer, which the company contended was against its “Look Policy.” During the initial trial for the case, a jury awarded Elauf a $20,000 reward, however, that was overturned on appeal. The Appeals judge wrote, “Ms. Elauf never informed Abercrombie before its hiring decision that she wore her head scarf, or ‘hijab,’ for religious reasons.”

Though the case was sent back to the appeals level by the Supreme Court, it ruled 8-1 that the company at least suspected that Elauf was wearing the head scarf for religious reasons; they chose not to hire her as to avoid having to create a religious accommodation.

Justice Antonin Scala penned and announced the decision, saying “this is really easy.” Scalia continued, “Title VII forbids adverse employment decisions made with a forbidden motive, whether this motives derives from actual knowledge, a well-founded suspicion or merely a hunch.”

Source: NY Times

The Saga Against the Hijab Continues—Abercrombie and Fitch’s Look Policy’s Shortcomings

In 2008, a 17 year old Samantha Elauf interviewed for a sales associate positon (or “models” as the company calls them) for Abercrombie & Fitch (“A&F”). Her friend worked at the same store, so Elauf was able to get interview tips and fashion advice for the interview. She was compliant with their “look policy”—a specific guideline of what the models should wear and how they should look in order to promote the specific brand/branding of the company. Elauf had chosen to wear A&F jeans and a t-shirt to the interview. She also wore a black hijab, a headscarf traditional to Muslim women for modesty, which matched the outfit.

Elauf was not hired as a result of wearing the hijab, because it violated the look policy. The said policy prohibits models from wearing black or any sort of “cap.” The hiring manager assumed the headscarf was for religious purposes and assumed Elauf was Muslim. Elauf never explicitly expressed she was Musilm, nor did it come up in the interview.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is now presenting the case to the US Supreme Court. The Daily Journal posed the question perfectly that the Supreme Court must answer, “How much information must an employer receive before it is on notice that an applicant or employee has religious needs that conflict with the job requirement, thereby requiring the employer to provide a reasonable accommodation?”

One side of the debate contends that mere assumptions for a religious accommodation (i.e. assuming Elauf is a Muslim and the headscarf was religious) is not enough to place the burden on the employer to accommodate. So, in this instance, the burden of religious discrimination cannot be proven because the hiring manager did not expressly know that Elauf was a Muslim, nor did Elauf inquire for an accommodation from the look policy to wear the hijab for religious purposes. The fact she was not hired because she violated the look policy could stand.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, some believe that explicit notice is not necessary for reasonable belief that a person is a certain religion. For Elauf, when she wore the hijab to her interview, it was safe to assume there was a probability of conflict due to religion. If the company had inkling of any conflict, then it is the company’s obligation/burden to inquire if an accommodation was necessary. This did not happen with Elauf.

The facts are not too complicated in it of itself, but the interpretation can be very contentious. We will keep you updated on how the case ultimately plays out.

Source: Daily Journal

Revlon Has an Unforgettable Lawsuit

Alan Meyers, a former scientific officer for Revlon Inc., is suing the company and its CEO, Lorenzo Delpani, for anti-Semitism. Meyers, who began working for the cosmetic giant in 2010, filed the lawsuit in Manhattan federal court.

The issue began in 2013, when Revlon bought Spanish beauty company, Colomer Group. Upon acquisition, Meyers voiced his concerns that Colomer’s use of unregulated raw materials violated safety requirements. The CEO silenced Meyers, allegedly wanting to “retain ‘plausible deniability’ about the problems” should an issue arise.

Delpani began covering the company’s tracks, including erasing an email from May 2014 in which Meyers complained about a specific plant in North Carolina.

Meyers’ constant attention to these issues allegedly ignited anti-American and anti-Semitic attitudes toward the scientific officer. The former employee claims that the CEO treated him vastly different from other employees. Those other employees were Spanish and Italian like Delpani while Meyers is Jewish and American.

The suit alleges, Delpani called Americans “small-minded” and “dirty” and said that all “Jews stick together.” Delpani was expressing his surprise that there weren’t many Jewish executives at Revlon, especially since the company’s owner, Ronald Perelman, is also Jewish.

Revlon responded to the suit, calling Meyers’ claims “completely meritless.” Revlon stated that it would “aggressively fight” the suit, referring to the case as “baseless” and “frivolous.”

Source: Huffington Post

Pictured above: Chief Executive Officer, Lorenzo Delpani

The Founder of American Apparel Terminated for Sexual Harassment Lawsuits

Dov Charney, a Canadian businessman who founded American Apparel at 20 years old, has been terminated from the company “for cause.” The board of directors for American Apparel, based in Los Angeles, voted to officially remove Charney from his position. American Apparel has been criticized in the past for over sexualized advertising campaigns and a culture of sexual harassment and misconduct. We had previously blogged about this here. Charney was removed for much of the same.

Charney’s replacement is former Warnaco executive, Paula Schneider. She will become the company’s next CEO. She hopes to maintain American Apparel’s image of American made products and improve the company’s overall image to both employees and customers.

As for Charney, he is at the center of several lawsuits alleging sexual harassment and sexual abuse towards female employees. He also has been accused of inappropriate behavior towards male employees. In 2011, a former employee alleged quid pro quo sexual harassment—she felt sex with Charney was a condition of her employment. The employee went as far as calling herself a “teenage sex slave” to him.

In 2012, a male manager alleged the former CEO of physical abuse including choking him and rubbing dirt in his face. After the violent encounter, Charney called him a “wannabe Jew” and a derogatory term for a homosexual.

Whether it was causation or merely correlation, the company’s stock fell significantly throughout 2014, and it suffered losses for three quarters.

Source: Daily Mail