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EEOC v. Abercrombie, 5-10-CV-03911-EJD (N.D. Cal. Apr. 9, 2013) (hijab case)

EEOC v. Abercrombie, 5-10-CV-03911-EJD (N.D. Cal. Apr. 9, 2013) (hijab case)

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EEOC v. Abercrombie, 5-10-CV-03911-EJD (N.D. Cal. Apr. 9, 2013) (hijab case)
EEOC v. Abercrombie, 5-10-CV-03911-EJD (N.D. Cal. Apr. 9, 2013) (hijab case)

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Categories:Types, Business/Law
Published by: Charles Colman Law, PLLC on Jun 19, 2013
Copyright:Public Domain

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07/26/2013

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1Case No.: 5:10-CV-3911-EJDORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT ANDDENYING DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
 
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 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIASAN JOSE DIVISIONU.S. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITYCOMMISSION,Plaintiff,v.ABERCROMBIE & FITCH STORES, INC. dbaABERCROMBIE KIDS,Defendant.)))))))))))Case No.: 5:10-CV-03911-EJD
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF’SMOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARYJUDGMENT AND DENYINGDEFENDANT’S MOTION FORSUMMARY JUDGMENT[Re: Docket Nos. 75, 80]
 Presently before the court in this employment discrimination action are the parties’ crossmotions for summary judgment. Defendant Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc. (“Abercrombie”)moves for summary judgment, or alternatively, summary adjudication as to Plaintiff U.S. EqualEmployment Opportunity Commission’s (“the EEOC”) prima facie case and its claims for injunctive relief and punitive damages. Dkt. No. 75. The EEOC in turn moves for summaryadjudication as to Abercrombie’s fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth, and tenth affirmative defenses. OnSeptember 28, 2012 the court heard argument on these motions. Having reviewed the parties’ briefing and heard the parties’ arguments, the court GRANTS the EEOC’s Motion for PartialSummary Judgment and DENIES Abercrombie’s Motion for Summary Judgment for the reasonsset forth below.
Case5:10-cv-03911-EJD Document106 Filed04/09/13 Page1 of 26
 
 
2Case No.: 5:10-CV-3911-EJDORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT ANDDENYING DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
 
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I.
 
BACKGROUND
On September 1, 2010, the EEOC filed this action on behalf of Ms. Halla Banafa againstAbercrombie alleging religious discrimination in Abercrombie’s hiring practices in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) and the Civil Rights Act of 1991. Dkt. No.1. Ms. Banafa is a Muslim teenager who applied to work as a Part-time Impact Associate (“PTI”)at Abercrombie in Milpitas, California on March 7, 2008. Ms. Banafa wore an Islamic head scarf (hijab) to her interview, which took place on March 14, 2008. Though she received a passingscore, Ms. Banafa did not receive a job offer. The EEOC alleges that Abercrombie refused to hireMs. Banafa in violation of Title VII because Abercrombie determined Ms. Banafa’s hijab to beinconsistent with the “Abercrombie look.”
a.
 
Halla Banafa
Ms. Halla Banafa was raised in a Muslim family and has been a practicing Muslim since birth. Declaration of Halla Banafa ISO Pl. Opp’n (“Banafa Decl.”), Dkt. No. 87, at ¶¶ 5-6. She believes that Islam dictates the type of clothing she should wear, including wearing a hijab while in public. Id. at ¶ 10. She began wearing a hijab in public when she was 11 or 12 years old ( id. at ¶10) and wears clothes she considers modest: primarily jeans, hooded sweatshirts, and t-shirts ( id.at ¶¶ 10, 13). Prior to her interview, Ms. Banafa was an Abercrombie customer who purchased Abercrombie jeans, sweatshirts, and t-shirts. Id. at ¶ 13.Ms. Banafa never held a job prior to applying to Abercrombie. Declaration of SamanthaStilp ISO Def. MSJ (“Stilp Decl. 1”), Dkt. No. 76, Ex. B at 64:1-3, 103:4-15. Ms. Banafainterviewed at Starbucks and FedEx prior to interviewing with Abercrombie, but was not offered either of those jobs. Declaration of Samantha Stilp ISO Def. Opp’n (“Stilp Decl. 2”), Dkt. No. 96,Ex. B at 73:11-17, 74:24-75:10. Following her interview with Abercrombie, Ms. Banafadiscontinued her job search for approximately five months. In July 2008, Ms. Banafa got married and moved to South Carolina. Id. at 171:16-24. After her move, Ms. Banafa stopped wearing thehijab. Stilp Decl. 1 Ex. B at 21-22, 24, 51. She applied to work at an Olive Garden restaurant in
Case5:10-cv-03911-EJD Document106 Filed04/09/13 Page2 of 26
 
 
3Case No.: 5:10-CV-3911-EJDORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT ANDDENYING DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
 
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South Carolina, was offered the job, and still worked there at the time of her deposition. StilpDecl. 2 Ex. B at 41:12-23, 66:15-17.
b.
 
Abercrombie & Fitch
Abercrombie operates retail stores across the United States under the brand namesAbercrombie & Fitch, Hollister, abercrombie kids, and Gilly Hicks. The Great Mall in Milpitas,California is home to three Abercrombie stores: Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister, and abercrombiekids. Declaration of Marcia Mitchell ISO Pl. MSJ (“Mitchell Decl. 1”), Dkt. No. 81, Ex. 2 at10:15-11:5. Abercrombie refers to its sales associates as “Models.” Id. at 19:2-5. Models work onthe sales floor and are required to wear Abercrombie-style clothing to exemplify the Abercrombielook to customers. Stilp Decl. 2 Ex. C at 72:17-73; Ex. E at 100:2-5. Employees who work in thestock room are called “Impact” or “PTI” associates. Stilp Decl. 2 Ex. E at 34:16-21. PTIs arerequired to wear the Abercrombie style but their primary function is not to model the style. StilpDecl. 2 Ex. C at 161:12-14; Ex. E at 34:16-24, 52:3-13. In 2008 Abercrombie employed between200,000 to 250,000 part-time employees, 90,000 to 120,000 of whom worked as PTIs and 70,000to 100,000 of whom worked as models. Mitchell Decl. 1 Ex. 1 at17:2-19.The Abercrombie brand exemplifies an East Coast collegiate style described as “casual”and “preppy.” Stilp Decl. 2 Ex. E at 94:20-95:14, 155:7-22. Abercrombie promotes its productsthrough its in-store experience, and uses virtually no television, print, or radio advertising. StilpDecl. 2 Ex. L; Ex. E at 138:10-22. It makes great efforts to ensure all the senses in the store areconsistent with its brand. Stilp Decl. 2 Ex. C at 130:7-24. Abercrombie’s goal is to provide itstarget customers with an in-store experience that perfectly matches Abercrombie’s vision of the brand, and inspires customers to adopt the Abercrombie style and purchase clothing from the store.Stilp Decl. 2 Ex. C at 31:13-24; Ex. E at 198:1-4; Ex. I at 45:10-46:2. Abercrombie believes itscustomers are brand savvy and will depend on the employees’ modeling the brand. Stilp Decl. 2Ex. I at 45:10-46:2. Abercrombie asserts that these efforts provide it with a competitive edge over other retailers that use traditional means of advertising. Stilp Decl. 2 Ex. C at 130:7-24.
Case5:10-cv-03911-EJD Document106 Filed04/09/13 Page3 of 26

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