Law360 Quotes Esther Lander on SCOTUS Abercrombie Accommodation Case

For its article “Attorneys React To High Court's EEOC v. Abercrombie Ruling,” Law360 quoted Akin Gump labor and employment partner Esther Lander on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores Inc., in which the Court ruled that in order to prevail in a disparate treatment claim, an applicant for a job need only show that “his need for an accommodation was a motivating factor in the employer’s decision, not that the employer had knowledge of his need.”

Lander, who was formerly the principal deputy chief of the Employment Litigation Section within the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, said, “The Abercrombie decision confirms that employment decisions should not be based upon assumptions and stereotypes concerning protected groups. The decision not to hire Ms. Elauf was made under the assumption that she would need a religious accommodation to comply with the company’s 'look policy.' The Supreme Court holds that making such assumptions ('confirmed or otherwise') can constitute intentional discrimination if considered as a factor in employment decisions.”

She added, “The court did not tackle the more difficult question of whether Title VII requires religious accommodation for headwear when employers implement a facially neutral 'look' policy to promote their brand image.”