JUDGE: ABERCROMBIE WRONGLY FIRED MUSLIM FOR HIJAB: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal judge in San Francisco has ruled that trendy clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch wrongly fired a Muslim worker who insisted on wearing a head scarf.
U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said the company violated anti-discrimination laws when it fired Hani Khan from its Hollister store in San Mateo in 2010. Rogers issued the ruling on Tuesday.
The company claimed the head scarf violated its policy governing the look of its employees, which it said was part of its marketing strategy. The store argued that deviating from its look policy would affect sales.
But the judge said Abercrombie & Fitch offered no "credible evidence" that Khan's head scarf cost the company any sales.
"Abercrombie only offers unsubstantiated opinion testimony of its own employees to support its claim of undue hardship," Rogers said.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit on Khan's behalf in 2011.
"Abercrombie & Fitch does not discriminate based on religion and we grant religious accommodations when reasonable," spokesman Bruce MacKenzie said. "It is our policy not to comment on pending litigation."
A trial on the company's liability is scheduled for later this month. The judge said the jury is free to award punitive damages if it chooses.
BAY BRIDGE GETS GOOD LUCK CHARM: TROLL: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A final piece of safety hardware — a bearded, spindly legged troll — has been installed in the new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
The troll is meant to be a protector and good luck charm, modeled after a similar statue placed surreptitiously by a steelworker on the old span after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.
The new statue forged by an unknown artist was installed at an undisclosed location, Bay Area Toll Authority spokesman John Goodwin said.
The original troll was removed from its perch on Labor Day in preparation for the demolition of the old bridge and will likely be housed in a museum or park, but plans were still being finalized.
The new, $6.4 billion portion of the Bay Bridge opened to traffic on Labor Day, nearly 24 years after the Loma Prieta earthquake damaged the old span.
SANTA ROSA MAY BOW OUT OF PLASTIC BAG BAN: SANTA ROSA (AP) — A Northern California city is considering bowing out of a countywide ban on single-use plastic bags, a move that could doom the measure.
Instead of backing the ban proposed by the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency, Santa Rosa officials are recommending the City Council draft its own ordinance.
Assistant City Manager Jennifer Phillips says in a report that Santa Rosa wants to "retain local control and enforcement authority."
The countywide ban requires a unanimous vote of the 10 members of the Waste Management Agency. If Santa Rosa decides not to participate, it would kill the countywide ban.
Supporters of the ban say a regional approach is the best way to create consistent rules and protect smaller communities from lawsuits brought by the plastic bag manufacturers lobby.