Abercrombie & Fitch can't seem to catch a break, particularly when it comes to employee dress. While the teen brand faced understandable complaints (and an inevitable descrimination lawsuit) over refusing to hire a woman for wearing a hijab, it comes under fire yet again—this time dealing with another "look policy"-based lawsuit.
It's no secret that A&F was incredibly picky about the way that its sales associates dressed, covering everything from pant size to shirt cuffs. This latest class-action suit—which comes from approximately 62,000 Abercrombie & Fitch current and former employees—argues that employees were forced to purchase Abercrombie merchandise in order to work at the store.
At first, this seems like a fairly obvious request. Most stores, and especially chain retailers, make their shop staff wear their clothing while on the job.
The twist comes through claims that, not only did Abercrombie & Fitch constantly change their "look" standards with each new sales guide, but it didn't reimburse the employees for their uniform purchases. Simply put, the suit alleges that A&F made employees buy new clothes constantly to keep up with workplace standards, and then refused to refund employees for the money they paid—just for the ability to go to work.
Add in Abercrombie's strict no-tolerance appearance guidelines, and those who weren't willing (or couldn't afford) to keep up with the constantly changing policies, could expect to have shift hours cut—or not be called in at all.
Reed Marcy, the attorney representing the Abercrombie & Fitch employees, spoke on Huff Post Live. When describing what the employees were looking to gain from the suit:
"The kind of damages would be reimbursement for the purchases that they were compelled to make, or for uniforms—whether those purchases were done at an Abercrombie store or elsewhere."
So what does Abercrombie & Fitch have to say about the claims? As Marcy said on Huff Post Live:
"Abercrombie has, in its look policy, a disclaimer that says 'Abercrombie employees are not required to purchase Abercrombie clothing.' [Abercrombie & Fitch] argues that the disclaimer should trump the evidence that we've produced about how the policy is really implemented from regional managers, on down."
However, Marcy goes on to insist that while A&F may have a disclaimer in their look policy, many employees saw their hours cut, and/or were sent home when they arrived in anything that wasn't "in uniform"—aka wearing Abercrombie & Fitch.
Is the problem with regional managers, or Abercrombie's head office? Probably both. Regardless, if what the former employees say is true, then Abercrombie & Fitch definitely has some explaining to do.
Keep it locked as this case develops.