Negative news isn’t exactly something new for Abercrombie and Fitch. The company has a string of complaints in the past year including the standard fare about rude customer service employees, but more impressively, the founder of Abercrombie has angered the plus-size community by refusing to make clothing for plus-sized women.
The company also made fun of Taylor Swift, a darling held dear by many in its customer base. Finally, the pesky “look” policy has caused trouble with discrimination in the past and it’s that same policy that has landed the company in its current bout of hot water.
Trouble with the Supreme Court
Abercrombie does everything in style, so when it went up against the Supreme Court, it lost rather spectacularly. A qualified applicant, Samantha Elauf, applied and interviewed for a spot in the Abercrombie Kid’s store in Oklahoma. She did well in the interview, but didn’t get the job because she didn’t meet the company’s “look” policy, meaning the hijab she was wearing wasn’t the right “look” for the company.
Not surprisingly the Supreme Court sided with the applicant against Abercrombie saying that she did have a case against the preppy company, and the case is still pending back in the lower courts.
Following the ruling, Abercrombie made a few changes to its controversial “look” and hiring practices. According to a spokesman for the fashion brand, "We have made significant enhancements to our store associate policies, including the replacement of the 'look policy' with a new dress code that allows associates to be more individualistic; changed our hiring practices to not consider attractiveness; and changed store associates' titles from 'Model' to 'Brand Representative' to align with their new customer focus."
More Trouble with Looks
Unfortunately for Abercrombie, the changes to the policies didn’t come fast enough. Last week a federal judge certified a class-action lawsuit of current and former Abercrombie employees against the store. The complaint? It was two-fold. One, the employees were required to purchase clothing from the store but were not reimbursed. Second, the employees lost shifts and subsequent pay when they were sent home for not following the look policy to the letter.
There were many ways employees can run afoul of the “look” policy including having their fingernails too long, having the wrong make-up look, having the wrong color hair or not wearing the latest Abercrombie brands. To that end, employees were required to buy new clothing with the release of each new sales guide. The attorney in the class action suit called this requirement akin to a required uniform, and the company did not reimburse the employees, which is a violation of the state labor codes.
While the old and new lawsuits will likely be giving the top Abercrombie officials headaches for some time to come, the store can easily resolve many of its other complaints. Customers here on PissedConsumer aren’t very impressed with the friendliness of the “models” or “brand representatives.” In fact, there are dozens of complaints about rudeness and customer service issues. Perhaps Abercrombie can start there to clean up its act.
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