Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc.—Religious Accommodation in the Workplace: Supreme Court Clarifies that an Employer Can Be Liable for Failing To Accommodate a Religious Practice that the Employer Suspects, But Does Not Know, To Be Religiously Based

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP - June 2, 2015
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Yesterday in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., No. 14-86, the U.S. Supreme Court addressed the prohibition in Title VII of the Civil Rights of 1964 on adverse employment actions “against any individual . . . because of such individual’s . . . religion.”  The Court held that Title VII does not require that employers have actual knowledge of an applicant or employee’s need for a religious accommodation in order for an adverse employment action to be unlawful.  Rather, an employer violates Title VII if the employee’s religious practice is a motivating factor in the adverse employment action, even if the employer only suspects (though does not know) that the employee’s practice is a religious one.