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Debating Supreme Court case against Abercrombie & Fitch over religious attire




Samantha Elauf (C), her mother Majda Elauf (2nd R) of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission General Counsel David Lopez (R) leave the U.S. Supreme Court after the court heard oral arguments in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch February 25, 2015 in Washington, DC.
Samantha Elauf (C), her mother Majda Elauf (2nd R) of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission General Counsel David Lopez (R) leave the U.S. Supreme Court after the court heard oral arguments in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch February 25, 2015 in Washington, DC.
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Lawyers for Abercrombie & Fitch were grilled today by both liberal and conservative justices during arguments before the Supreme Court.

The case involves a Muslim woman who wasn't hired by the clothing retailer because she wore a black headscarf to her job interview. The company says that conflicted with the company's dress code, which doesn't allow employees to wear anything black. The court is being asked to decide how far an employer must go to accommodate the religious beliefs of a job applicant or worker. Legal scholar Ilya Shapiro of Cato Institute says labor law "[leaves] it to the employee to determine when a company policy conflicts with his or her religious practice and then to request an accommodation," and the young woman Samantha Elauf failed to state her needs.

Michael Helfand, Pepperdine University law professor, points out that the company's hiring manager testified she believed Elauf wore a headscarf for religious reasons. Helfand believes "to establish artificial distinctions that place obstacles before those who seek to bring their religion into the commercial sphere is to fundamentally misunderstand the comprehensive nature of religious experience." Who has a more convincing argument? Should employers accommodate employees with religious garb?

With files from the Associated Press.

Guest: 

Michael Helfand, Associate Professor of Law, Pepperdine University;  Associate Director , Diane and Guilford Glazer Institute for Jewish Studies, Pepperdinel; USA Today "Religion & Commerce Can Co-Exist" by Professor Helfand.

Ilya Shapiro, Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute and Editor-in-Chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review; Shapiro joined an amicus brief filed with the Court in support of Abercrombie & Fitch, details here (link).