Why religion can’t be a motivating factor in hiring

By Dunn, Carney, Allen, Higgins & Tongue

Religious Practices Cannot Be “Motivating Factors” in Hiring Decisions Even if Unconfirmed

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that an employer cannot use an applicant’s religion, confirmed or unknown, as a “motivating factor” in making a hiring decision.

In EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., 135 S.Ct. 2028 (2015), the Court found that Abercrombie & Fitch violated Title VII, the federal law prohibiting religious discrimination, when it failed to hire an otherwise qualified applicant because her headscarf violated its dress code policy. Although the applicant did not confirm the headscarf’s religious purpose, it was a motivating factor in Abercrombie & Fitch’s decision not to hire her.

The take away from this case is that employers cannot allow their own assumptions about an applicant’s religious practices to influence the hiring decision.

If you have questions about this issue or any other employment law matter, contact Allyson S. Krueger at 503-417-5461.

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