Understanding the Court System

Being a unified nation, the United States of America has a complex judicial system that comprises of the state courts as well as federal courts. The highest court in the land is the Supreme Court of the United States that is the only court that was established by the constitution while the others are products of Congress. The Federal Supreme Court helps in the interpretation of the federal constitution as well as hearing and determining appeals from cases heard by the highest state courts. The court also hears complicated cases that deal with individual states, international issues, or matters concerning ambassadors and envoys. The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission v. Abercrombie and Fitch Stores, Inc. is an example of a case that moved from the state courts to the Federal Supreme Court (575. U.S., 2015).

The company sells clothes in different outlets; it has a “Look Policy” that dictates the dressing code of the members of staff, and among the prohibitions of the system is wearing of “caps” (575. U.S., 2015). A lady by the name Samantha Elauf happened to apply for a job in the organization after undergoing an interview presided by Heather Cooke who was an assistant manager. He established that she was fit for working in the company. However, he was in a dilemma because he could not establish whether her head gear (Islamic scarf) was the part of the caps that were prohibited by the “Look Policy”. The assistant manager sought clarification from the higher offices of the firm. Randall Johnson who served as the manager at the district level argued that whether the scarf was religious or not, it could not be accommodated in the workplace. Thus, he ordered Cooke not to hire Samantha Elauf.

Through the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, Samantha launched a suit against the firm in the District Court arguing that the management had contravened the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The particular law applies at the federal level, and it cautions the employers against segregating potential or actual employees basing on their gender, color, religion, and national origin. The employees referred to the legislation are the local, state, and federal governments, private and public education institutions, labor organizations, and employment agencies (575. U.S., 2015). In this case, the managers of the Abercrombie and Fitch Stores, Inc. violated the law, as they deliberately denied Samantha an employment opportunity due to her religious practice of wearing a scarf. Therefore, this fact qualified as religious discrimination. The Title VII refers to the act of a “disparate treatment” that entails the unfair denial of employment or unfair dismissal of an individual due to his sex, religion, color, or national affiliation. The term also applies to the actions that unfairly affect the compensation, employment benefits, and status of an individual (575. U.S., 2015).

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The Civil Rights Act of 1991 authorizes juries to redress the suffering of the affected person through the award of monetary benefits as compensation or payment for damages that include emotional pain, suffering, and mental anguish among others (Livingstone, n.d.). The size of the firm-employer determines the amount an employee may seek to recover. For instance, a company that exceeds 500 employees may pay a sum of $ 300,000 to each seeking compensation while a firm with 200-500 employees pays $ 200,000. Firms with 100-201 workers pay $100,000 while those employing 14-100 pay $ 50,000 (Livingstone, n.d.). In the Abercrombie's case, the management violated the law by denying Samantha employment due to her religious practice, and this qualified as the “disparate treatment”-intentional discrimination. The firm, therefore, was subjected to a penalty that fitted its employment threshold.

The case took place in the District Court that awarded Samantha a payment of $ 20,000 (575. U.S., 2015). The firm appealed to the Tenth Circuit, and the juries overturned the ruling arguing that the company can only be liable if Samantha had notified the management of her need for accommodation. The District Court had the authority to decide the case because the issue at hand took place in its jurisdiction. The Tenth Circuit also had the powers to determine the appeal because it is higher than the District Court. After the Tenth Circuit's decision, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission pursued an appeal to the Federal Supreme Court. The court had the authority to admit the case because it is the highest court in the land, and it has the final jurisdiction on the appellate matters over all the other federal as well as state courts in the country. The Court is also the ultimate interpreter of the law, and thus, it can issue explanations that differ from another tribunal.

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The Section 2 of the Amendment Three of the United States Constitution puts it clear that the judicial powers of the court apply in all cases in the laws of the country as well as treaties (National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.). Additionally, the court also addresses cases affecting ambassadors, maritime jurisdiction, and the controversies involving the United States or the individual states among other instances (National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.). Additionally, the Supreme Court is the only federal court with the powers to hear and give the verdict to appeals on cases earlier determined by the highest state courts. Thus, in Samantha's case, the Supreme Court was the only option after the District Court and the Tenth Circuit respectively.

The Supreme Court of the United States had to hear the case because the District Court had issued a verdict that was overturned by the Tenth Circuit, which was more powerful. The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission had to file an appeal in the highest Court at the federal level that has the mandate to handle appellate cases from the verdicts issued by the highest state courts. The Tenth Circuit had twisted or misinterpreted the meaning of the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for Abercrombie by saying that the company had a liability for its actions only if Samantha had explained to the management why it should tolerate the head scarf. The argument was weak because Cooke, the assistant manager, already knew that the scarf was religious and, thus, there was no further reason for Samantha to explain it to them. The Supreme Court of the United States, therefore, had to come in and clarify that the law had no provision of the “employer's knowledge” that the Tenth Circuit used to give a verdict that exonerated the company from blame.

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Before the issuance of the judgment, the Supreme Court examined the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to establish whether Samantha was supposed to inform the Abercrombie of her need for accommodation. The court identified two categories of offenses pointed out by the law. The first offense is denying a chance to a potential employee, firing a worker, or harassing him or her in matters concerning the compensation, terms, privileges, and conditions because of his or her affiliation to a particular color, race, sex, religion, or national affiliation. The other offense is restraining, classifying, or segregating workers or job seekers in a manner that deprives them their employment chance or affects their job status due to the same reasons mentioned in the first offense (575. U.S., 2015).

The court disagreed with the Tenth Circuit's argument that the affected employee must show that the management knew the need for her accommodation. Instead, the Supreme Court established that Samantha had only to show that her need for accommodation motivated Abercrombie's decision to deny her the opportunity. The Court further pointed out that the law prohibits employers to reject job seekers due to their religion and its aspects such as religious beliefs and practices. All the parties agreed that Samantha's scarf signified a religious practice, but the point of dispute at the point was whether the scarf indeed contributed to her denial of employment. The court argued that if Samantha required accommodation, and the company had the desire to avoid accommodating her, Samantha's need influenced the outcome and, thus, the company contravened the legislation. The juries further pointed out the “employers knowledge” that the Tenth Circuit dwelt on had no weight in determining the company's liability, and that the company violated the law (575. U.S., 2015). The Abercrombie argued that the case was a disparate impact claim as opposed to a disparate treatment claim. The court responded that this would only happen if the meaning of religion in the Title VII were limited to religious beliefs only and that faith entailed beliefs, practices, and all the other aspects. The ultimate decision of the court was that the Tenth Circuit did not accurately interpret the Title VII and, thus, the court nullified its judgment and ordered a postponement of the case for further considerations of the provisions of the law. The conclusion was arrived at after a consensus between the juries under the leadership of Justice Scalia. However, one judge disagreed with some portions of the verdict but agreed with others (575. U.S., 2015).

The Supreme Court was justified to deliver the judgment that reversed the Tenth Circuit’s decision because the latter had indeed misinterpreted the law by exonerating Abercrombie from the blame. The management had discriminated aginst Samantha because of her religious practice of wearing a scarf, and this contravened the Title VII's “disparate treatment” provision, thus, making the company liable for the claim. Before denying Samantha the opportunity, the management of the stores never depicted that it was indeed hard to accommodate Samantha and her scarf as required by the law. Additionally, the argument that the employee must show the need for accommodation was invalid because the Title VII did not have such a provision and, thus, the court had twisted the law for the company. The company further knew that the scarf was Islamic; therefore, the Circuit's argument was invalid. It was argued that Samantha's scarf was not the type specified for the Muslim women, and she used to purchase the dressing in ordinary cloth stores (575. U.S., 2015). It was, therefore, appropriate for the Supreme Court to nullify and postpone the judgment to allow Samantha to prove that she did not wear the scarf for secular reasons.

In conclusion, the Abercrombie denied Samantha an employment opportunity due to her religious practice of wearing an Islamic scarf, and this contravened the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Thus, the District Court had the jurisdiction of addressing the issue. However, after the judgment that awarded the victim a $20,000 payment, the Tenth Circuit had the power of admitting an appeal by the defendant and issuing its verdict. After the appellate case, the Supreme Court of the United States had the constitutional power of accepting a call against the Tenth Circuit's judgment in consideration of the legal hierarchy of the judicial system. Additionally, by having the ultimate powers to interpret the Constitution, the court had powers to reexamine the Title VII and revoke the appellate decision pending consideration of the issues at the same court for the final judgment.

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