Religion Scores Another Win at the Supreme Court

Court sides with a Muslim woman denied a job at an Abercrombie & Fitch store.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 24: Pedestrians are reflected in the window of an Abercrombie and Fitch store on May 24, 2013 in San Francisco, Calif. (National Journal)

Religious expression scored another victory Monday at the Supreme Court, which sided with a Muslim woman who said she was denied a job at an Abercrombie & Fitch store because of her headscarf.

The case pitted two of the Court's favorite interests—business and religion—against each other. And, in an 8-to-1 decision, religion got the upper hand.

Job applicants don't have to specifically ask for religious exceptions to company policies, the Court said: When employers discriminate on the basis of religion, they open themselves up to lawsuits.

The case involves a Muslim woman who was denied a job at an Abercrombie store because her headscarf violated the company's "look policy." The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission says Abercrombie discriminated against her because of her religion; Abercrombie says it did nothing wrong because she didn't specifically ask for an exception to the company's policies.

She didn't need to, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the Court's ruling Monday.

"An applicant need only show that his need for an accommodation was a motivating factor in the employer's decision," Scalia wrote.

Religious-freedom lawsuits have fared well at the high Court lately. The justices have also sided with a Muslim inmate who had been prohibited from growing a beard and allowed a town council to open public meetings with prayers. Last year, they ruled that Obamacare's contraception mandate violated the religious freedom of certain business owners.