is a website on the nationwide civil rights lawsuit against Abercrombie
and Fitch for alleged racial and ethnic discrimination against employees
and job applicants. It is sponsored by the national law firm of Lieff Cabraser
Heimann & Bernstein, LLP. Joining Lieff Cabraser as co-counsel are MALDEF,
APALC and the NAACP
Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc.
Orange (Syracuse University Newspaper),
"Minority groups sue Abercrombie for $40 million"
Hollenbeck strolled the corridors of Carousel Mall
trying to decide where she would like to apply for
a new job. The junior graphic arts major walked
into the Abercrombie & Fitch store, took one
look at the female employees behind the counter
and walked out. "They were all tall, skinny
white girls, and I didn't feel appropriate for the
job," she said. The intimidation that Hollenbeck,
and many others feel, when walking into the retail-clothing
store may not last for long. Abercrombie is about
to undergo a major image change that won't drop
the gorgeous models from the payroll, but will work
to end alleged discrimination by hiring more female
and minority employees.
Abercrombie has agreed to settle a class-action
discrimination lawsuit brought on by nine former
employees who claimed they were fired, asked to
work in back storage rooms or put on overnight shifts
because they didn't fit into the "Abercrombie
look" enough to work on the sales floor during
regular business hours.
"This case is extremely important because it's
a very large-name retailer and involves people of
all colors," said Minah Park, a staff attorney
at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center. APALC
joined the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education
Fund, the National Association for the Advancement
of Colored People Legal Defense Fund and San Francisco
law firm Leiff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein,
LLP, in the legal battle. The lawsuit was initially
filed in July 2003 in the U.S. District Court in
San Francisco, Calif.
While Park said it's not illegal for companies to
hire people that they feel are attractive, companies
risk legal trouble if hiring standards include gender
or race. "It's fine for retailers to have a
certain image but make sure it doesn't run afoul
of civil rights laws," she said.
were two aspects to the settlement," explained
Shaheena Ahmad Simons, a staff attorney for MALDEF.
"Abercrombie agreed to pay $40 million to be
divided up amongst those apart of the lawsuit and
injunctive relief, which are things the company
must do to remedy the situation." Abercrombie
also agreed to stop targeting fraternities and sororities
for prospective employees, require all employees
to undergo diversity training, hire a new vice president
of diversity and 25 recruiters to seek out women
and minorities for jobs, and include minorities
in marketing materials. Simons said the legal team
was doing its best to contact former employees and
encourage anyone who felt discriminated against
to visit www.abercrombieclaims.com
by March 25 to submit a claim.
Francisco Chronicle, "Abercrombie
& Fitch to pay $40 million to settle discrimination
Abercrombie & Fitch has agreed to pay $40
million to black, Hispanic and Asian employees
and job applicants to settle a class-action federal
discrimination lawsuit that accused the clothing
retailer of promoting whites at the expense of
minorities, lawyers said Tuesday.
The settlement, approved Tuesday morning by U.S.
District Court Judge Susan Illston, requires the
company to adhere to a consent decree that calls
for the implementation of new policies and programs
to promote diversity and prevent discrimination
in its workforce. It also must pay about $10 million
to monitor compliance and cover attorneys' fees.
Francisco Chronicle, Retailer's image problem:
Racism (Excerpt of Opinion piece by Joan Ryan)
to a class action suit, Abercrombie & Fitch
discriminates against minorities by pressuring
stores to hire sales associates who fit the "A&F
look,'' which from their catalogs, advertisements
and looping videos in their stores, is white,
young and preferably blond. The plaintiffs claim
they were denied jobs or squeezed out of jobs
because of their race or ethnicity.
as I watched a "60 Minutes'' piece on the
suit Sunday night, I wondered about the balance
of private enterprise vs. public values. How do
we weigh a company's right to maximize its ability
to attract its target audience against society's
obligation to protect its citizens against discrimination?
As black talk show host and lawyer Larry Elder
said on "60 Minutes,'' "This is about
a business deciding, pursuant to its best interests
... that a particular kind of salesperson is more
likely to generate more dollars. A&F ought
to have the right to set their own policies for
good or for ill.''
no. Then it also would be OK for a restaurant
owner in Selma, Ala., to claim he doesn't hire
African Americans because white waitresses and
cooks make his white customers more comfortable
and are better for business. "And that argument
died a long time ago,'' said Garry Mathiason,
a senior partner at Littler, Mendelson, which
represents about 30,000 employers. "It's
not only legally wrong, it's not accepted by society.''
to the suit, A&F is "enforcing a nationwide
corporate policy of preferring white employees
for sales positions, desirable work assignments
and favorable work schedules.'' The suit says
the company recruits employees from colleges,
fraternities, sororities and sports that are predominantly
white. "They aren't recruiting from the basketball
team,'' said Tom Saenz, one of the attorneys who
coordinated the suit. "A company can project
whatever image it wants, but it can't use it as
a cover for race discrimination,'' said Elaine
Elinson of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights
in San Francisco.
Press, "New discrimination suit hits
& Fitch has been sued for a second time for
allegedly discriminating against minorities who
want jobs at the clothing retailer. The latest suit,
filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Camden,
claims the company recruits and hires white college
students for its sales positions, but tends to hire
minorities only for jobs behind the scenes, such
as overnight shifts and stockroom work.
lawsuit is similar to one filed in June in a federal
court in San Francisco and seeks class-action status.
According to the claim filed Wednesday, lead plaintiff
Brandy Hawk applied for a job at the Abercrombie
& Fitch store in the Cherry Hill Mall in May.
She is a college student and a varsity athlete -
some of the characteristics the New Albany, Ohio,
retailer says it's looking for in a recruiting brochure.
Hawk was initially told by an assistant manager
that she would be recommended for the job, but was
later rejected. In the complaint, Hawk said she
was told she did not fit the image the retailer
wanted to project.
Wall Street Journal, "Racial Discrimination
is Still at Work in U.S."
young high-school graduates with similar job histories
and demeanors apply in person for jobs as waiters,
warehousemen or other low-skilled positions advertised
in a Milwaukee newspaper. One man is white and admits
to having served 18 months in prison for possession
of cocaine with intent to sell. The other is black
and hasn't any criminal record.
man is more likely to get called back?
is surprisingly close. In a carefully crafted experiment
in which college students posing as job applicants
visited 350 employers, the white ex-con was called
back 17% of the time and the crime-free black applicant
14%. The disadvantage carried by a young black man
applying for a job as a dishwasher or a driver is
equivalent to forcing a white man to carry an 18-month
prison record on his back.
Miami Herald, "Retailer's Narrow Image
Looks Like a Loser"
just checked my son's closet and counted two Abercrombie
& Fitch items. I wonder if he should have any.
me explain. A&F, that edgy, irreverent retailer
for the 25-and-under set, has just been sued by
nine Asian, black and Hispanic plaintiffs who claim
that the company gives white employees preferences
by hiring more of them and then assigning them to
high-profile work on the retail floor. The lawsuit
in U.S. District Court for Northern California seeks
back pay and an end to those alleged practices.
plaintiffs may have a case. Check out A&F's
catalog. Walk into one of its stores in the mall.
Click on its Web site. See anyone who isn't blond
New York Times, "Going for the look,
but risking discrimination"
aggressive approach to building a pretty and handsome
sales force, an effort that company officials proudly
acknowledge, is a leading example of what many industry
experts and sociologists describe as a steadily
growing trend in American retailing. From Abercrombie
to the cosmetics giant L'Oreal, from the sleek W
hotel chain to the Gap, businesses are openly seeking
workers who are sexy, sleek or simply good-looking.
for looks is old news in some industries, as cocktail
waitresses, strippers and previous generations of
flight attendants know all too well. But many companies
have taken that approach to sophisticated new heights
in recent years, hiring workers to project an image.
doing so, some of those companies have been skirting
the edges of antidiscrimination laws and provoking
a wave of private and government lawsuits. Hiring
attractive people is not necessarily illegal, but
discriminating on the basis of age, sex or ethnicity
is. That is where things can get confusing and contentious.
Daily Journal (San Francisco), "Selling
Sex, Especially the White, Hot Kind"
sex to move merchandise is not a new idea. More
than a decade ago, Calvin Klein perfected the concept,
using beefcake to sell millions of pairs of men's
underwear that even his most famous model, rapper
Marky-Mark turned thespian Mark Wahlberg, complained
weren't very well made.
Abercrombie has taken the trend to new heights --
of both blatantly sexual imagery and controversy.
too often, critics say, Abercrombie's definition
of "hot" means young, sleek -- and white.
News-Press (Los Angeles), "Lawsuit
filed against national retail chain"
his first year at Stanford University, Anthony Ocampo
thought he could return to the Abercrombie &
Fitch retail store where he had worked during his
Ocampo, a Filipino-American, approached and asked
an employee about returning to the Glendale Galleria
store, she stepped away to consult a manager. She
came back to Ocampo and allegedly told him he would
not be rehired because "too many Filipinos"
were already working there.
incident is why Ocampo is one of nine plaintiffs
in a lawsuit against the national retail clothing
New York Times, Op-Ed, "A Retailer
is Dressed Down"
a bankruptcy and a series of buyouts, Abercrombie
succeeded spectacularly in remaking itself as a
cool shopping destination for young Americans. It
is currently one of the nation's largest retailers,
operating approximately 600 stores. But critics
are questioning whether Abercrombie's much-promoted
"classic American" look requires the wearer
to be white as well as hip. The retailer says it
does not discriminate, but a sample of the store's
catalog on its Web site features models who are
all white. This week, former employees filed suit
charging racial discrimination in its hiring practices.
Former employees of the store charged that the few
minorities who were hired often received jobs that
placed them out of sight, off the sales floor.
Alto Weekly, "Students sue Abercrombie
Stanford students are parties to a lawsuit alleging
the retail chain Abercrombie & Fitch discriminates
against non-white job applicants.
Ocampo, a Filipino-American and recent Stanford
graduate, said he saw non-white workers either denied
employment or relegated to the backroom three years
ago when he worked at the store's outlet in Glendale
during Christmas break of his freshman year.
"Most of the workers of color work in the back
of the store, while most of the white workers work
in the front," recalled Ocampo. At the end
of the school year, he applied to work at the store
for the summer, but was told, "I'm sorry, we
can't rehire you because there's already too many
Filipinos working here."
was appalled," he said. "I was extremely
surprised that such a blatant act of discrimination
could happen in the workplace." Years later,
Ocampo's friend Eduardo Gonzalez applied for a job
at the Abercrombie store in Santa Clara. The manager
suggested he work in the stock room, even though
they were hiring all positions.
Wall Street Journal, "Suit accuses Abercrombie
of racial discrimination"
group of former and prospective employees filed
a racial-discrimination lawsuit against Abercrombie
& Fitch Co. Monday, accusing the clothing retailer
of denying them job opportunities on the basis of
race, color and/or national origin.
their complaint, nine plaintiffs charged that Abercrombie
"has maintained and continues to maintain a
pervasive policy or practice of discrimination."
They accused the company of "denying employment,
desirable job assignments, job transfers, allocation
of weekly hours, compensation, and other terms and
conditions of employment to minorities in Abercrombie
plaintiffs, who are of Latino and Asian backgrounds,
are being represented by a cadre of civil-rights
organizations. The San Francisco office of Lieff
Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, a law firm
that has scored multimillion-dollar settlements
against such big companies as Home Depot Inc. and
United Parcel Service Inc. in discrimination related
cases, also is acting as counsel.
Los Angeles Times, "Claims against Abercrombie
was a time when Jennifer Lu was the face of Abercrombie
& Fitch. For three years, she worked nearly
30 hours a week as a sales clerk in Costa Mesa,
peddling the company's self-described "classic
American" clothing and accessories.
in the wake of her sudden termination in February,
Lu now contends she suddenly wasn't "American"
enough. Lu said that during a late January blitz,
a corporate employee directed a manager to a poster
of a young white male and said, "You need more
staff that looks like this." On February 8,
Lu was fired.
New York Times, "Clothing Chain
Accused of Discrimination"
& Fitch, the clothing retailer that appeals
to the college set with blond -- haired, blue-eyed
models, was sued yesterday for racial discrimination,
accused of favoring whites for its sales floor
lawsuit charges that Abercrombie discriminates against
Hispanics, Asians and blacks in its hiring as it
seeks to project what the company calls the "classic
American" look. Several Hispanic and Asian
plaintiffs said in interviews that when they applied
for jobs, store managers steered them to stockroom
jobs and away from the sales floor because they
did not project what the company called "the
A&F look." That look, these plaintiffs
said, is overwhelmingly white, judging from the
low percentage of minority members who work on the
sales floor and from the company's posters and quarterly
magazine, which overwhelmingly featured white models.
San Francisco Chronicle, "Clothing
retailer accused of discriminating against minorities"
retailer Abercrombie & Fitch recruits and hires
a disproportionately white sales force, cultivates
a virtually all-white image and discriminates against
minorities in hiring and firing, according to a
lawsuit filed Monday.
lawsuit, filed by nine Hispanic and Asian plaintiffs
in federal court in San Francisco, alleges that
Abercrombie discriminates against blacks, Hispanics
and Asians by enforcing a nationwide corporate policy
of preferring white employees for sales positions,
desirable job assignments and favorable work schedules.