- Associated Press - Monday, December 5, 2016

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - A Tulsa woman who gained widespread attention for challenging a clothing retailer that she said had denied her a job for wearing a headscarf has been honored for her social justice advocacy.

Samantha Elauf, 26, received the Woody Guthrie Center’s second Oklahoma Changing World Prize at a ceremony Sunday night, the Tulsa World reported (https://bit.ly/2h7MAyQ ).

Inspired by Guthrie’s song “Changing World,” the center’s executive director, Deana McCloud, said the award was created to celebrate those who dedicate themselves to fighting for social justice.

In accordance with her Muslim faith, Elauf wore a black headscarf, or hijab, to a job interview at an Abercrombie & Fitch kids store at the Woodland Hills Mall in June 2008. She was told she was denied the job because her hijab clashed with the company’s dress policy at the time. The dress policy at the time required employees to wear outfits similar to the store’s clothing, and prohibited black clothing and hats.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against the retailer on Elauf’s behalf. According to a federal civil rights law called Title VII, employers are required to accommodate for employees’ religious beliefs in most circumstances. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the commission and Elauf’s favor in an 8-1 margin last year.

“I see how much a difference I did make, not just for myself but all minorities in the world,” Elauf said. “Especially for Muslim women who have felt uncomfortable with the interview process or have felt like they are being judged based on their religious beliefs.”

Since the ruling, A&F; has changed its policy on headscarves and has settled similar lawsuits elsewhere.


Information from: Tulsa World, https://www.tulsaworld.com

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