In its recent ruling in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., the majority of a 3-judge panel in the Tenth Circuit wrongly dismissed the EEOC's claim of religious discrimination at the summary judgment phase. In that case, Abercrombie & Fitch declined to hire Samantha Elauf, a Muslim, because her headscarf conflicted with its undisclosed Look Policy. When sued by the EEOC, Abercrombie cried wolf declaring that it did not know that Elauf was a Muslim and wore a hijab, despite not hiring her exactly for that reason. Abercrombie claimed that because Elauf did not explicitly request a religious accommodation, Abercrombie lacked the requisite notice and could not be found liable for religious discrimination. Surprisingly, the majority agreed with Abercrombie and overturned the district court's decision to the contrary.
Beginning next year, California will have new workplace laws in effect. Some of the laws cover such areas as workplace discrimination and the rights of workers, but the focus for the New Year was mostly on the budget. Approximately 18 laws are scheduled to affect both employees and their employers.