CAIRO - A US clothing retailer fashion mogul has been found guilty of violating the religious rights of a Muslim employee who was fired for refusing to remove her hijab, a federal judge has ruled.
"We're living in America; it's such a melting pot of diversity with so many different types of people," Hani Khan, a former employee at Hollister store in San Mateo, California, was quoted by San Francisco Mercury News.
"That's why I've taken this case so publicly, so that they realize what they did was wrong and what they continue to do is wrong."
The court ruling issued on Monday, September 9, came to end troubles Khan has been facing over the past three years.
Hired for work at an Abercrombie & Fitch store in California in October 2009, store managers told her that her hijab would not be in conflict with Abercrombie's look policy, as long as she wore it in company colors.
Yet, her dilemma started when a district manager visited the store followed by a request by a company official to stop wearing the hijab.
She refused and was suspended, and a week later was fired.
Filing suit on Khan's behalf, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accused Abercrombie of discriminating against employees on basis of religion.
The ruling finally came on Monday saying that the fashion mogul has violated work anti-discrimination laws when it fired Khan from San Mateo store.
"Abercrombie must provide more than generalized subjective beliefs or assumptions that deviations from the Look Policy negatively affect the sales or the brand," federal judge in San Francisco, Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers wrote.
"A reasonable jury could not conclude that Abercrombie would be unduly burdened by allowing Khan to continuing wearing her hijab."
A leading US civil rights organization has praised the court ruling, seeing it as a step forward towards obligating companies to respect religious accommodations.
"At the heart of this case is the belief that no-one should ever have to choose between their religion and work," said Zahra Billoo of San Francisco office for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
Khan, now 23, graduated last year from UC Davis with a double major in political science and communications and is looking for work.
A California native, she said she never before had experienced discrimination because of her hijab.
"My hope is that this case will lead to Abercrombie changing their practices ... in regards to religious accommodation," she said.
"I don't want this to happen to any other person."
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one's affiliations.
Abercrombie has repeatedly faced legal trouble because its discrimination policies.
In September 2009, US authorities sued the company for discriminating against a Muslim woman in Tulsa, Oklahoma, who alleged that a store had refused to hire her because of her head scarf.
In a similar case in 2008, a Muslim woman said a manager at an Abercrombie & Fitch store in Milpitas, California, had written not Abercrombie look on her interview form and refused to hire her after she applied for a job.
In 2010, US authorities sued the company for discrimination over the incident.
United States is the home to from 7-8 million Muslims.