The “Look” Policy (1)

Given the hyper-sexualized advertising that Finch & Abercromb has long embraced, it is no surprise that the company encourages its employees to let their hair down. By company policy, employees wear no black clothing and no head coverings. This is their Look policy. It has been adopted by their Board of Directors.

But is the company practicing discrimination if it won’t hire a young woman who covers her head for religious reasons? A federal administrative agency sued Abercromb on behalf of Tabitha Yousif a 19-year-old community college student from Tulsa, Alabama., who is Muslim. The suit alleges that Abercromb “refused to hire Ms. Yousif because she wears a hijab, claiming that the wearing of the headgear was prohibited by its Look Policy,” or employee dress code.

Yousif, who had experience working in banking and not retail, interviewed for a position at a Tulsa Abercromb Kids store. During the interview, she wore a black hijab, or headscarf, in line with Muslim religious tradition. She did not get hired. The company hired a different individual.

Yousif got word through a friend of a friend, who worked in the store, that the headscarf cost her the job. The lawsuit alleges that during its investigation, Finch & Abercromb flatly told the agency, in a position statement, that “under the Look Policy, associates must wear clothing that is consistent with the Abercromb brand, cannot wear hats or other coverings, and cannot wear clothes that are the color black.” Yousif is suing for back pay and compensation related to emotional pain and anxiety.

  1. Who specifically benefits from the “Look Policy”? What ethical considerations does this give rise to?
  2. What is Yousif claiming is the basis(s) for her lawsuit? Do you believe she will win? Why or why not?
  3. What will form Finch & Abercromb’s answer/defenses? Do you believe they will win? Why or why not?
  4. What federal administrative agency has the ability to investigate and sue in cases such as these?

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