Abercrombie & Fitch , the Ohio based retailer is being sued by a British woman who worked in their London based store for discrimination. The 22 yr. old law student Riam Dean was hired by the store and then at some point they took notice of her prosthetic arm. She was told she could wear a cardigan when on the shop floor. But , later she was relegated to the back stock room because the sweater violated a strict dress code. When I first heard this story out of London, I thought it was one of those urban myths. Then I found out that Ambercrombie has a large book of employee rules that does in fact include how long hair can be and length of nails etc. They also have had the reputation for years of only hiring very attractive young people, and according to some job applicants would tell people that didn’t fit their appearance criteria that they weren’t hiring, when in fact they were.
The company disputes her claims but Abercrombie has not had the best track record. In 2004 it spent 50 million to settle a number of discrimination lawsuits in the U.S. They were also part of a 22 million dollar settlement with other companies that contracted with sweatshops in the U.S. Territory of Saipan. So, I suppose you could at the very least ,conclude that their ethics are certainly questionable. I guess what I don’t comprehend about all this is; Since when does selling clothing in a store require beauty? I mean, isn’t it about customer service and who is nice and helpful? They have been criticized for years about their blatant overtly sexual ads, tasteless tee shirt slogans, which they have pulled off the shelves due to customer demand and still they plod on to new lows of tastelessness and apparent discrimination.
I notice they are closing some of their off-shoot stores and their stock is on the downslide as I write this. In this day and age, with retail in the dumps anyway, being shallow and putting the focus on “outer” beauty instead of inner beauty is just plain ugly. But you know, companies like this only care about their bottom line, and we as consumers can certainly control that to our advantage, whether we are attractive or not.