Abercrombie and Race Discrimination
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A recent legal case involving the issue of race discrimination in the American workplace involves an employment discrimination class-action suit against Abercrombie & Fitch Co., a leading clothing retailer with outlets across the United States.
Abercrombie, Race Discrimination and the Case
According to the Web site developed to promote public awareness of the case and to recruit victims and witnesses of racial discrimination at Abercrombie & Fitch, the suit was filed on June 16, 2003 by a coalition of four organizations, including:
- the Asian Pacific American Legal Center
- the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
- the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
- the national law firm of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Berstein, LLP (Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein).
The plaintiffs are bringing the case on behalf of a proposed nationwide class of all past, present, and future minorities who, because of their race, color, and/or national origin, have been discouraged from applying, or have been refused employment, desirable job assignments, job transfers, desirable hours, compensation, and/or other terms and conditions of employment … [and] those who have been terminated because of their race, color, and/or national origin.
The suit alleges that the clothing chain engages in systematic discrimination against existing and potential minority employees in a rigorous effort to create and preserve "the A&F look," an overwhelmingly White "Appearance Policy" that is promoting through marketing and employment practices. The suit charges that Abercrombie & Fitch works to maintain this image by recruiting, hiring, retaining, a promoting a "disproportionately white" workforce of "Brand Representatives," by systematically discouraging applications from minorities, and by channeling minority hires into stockroom and overnight shift positions where they are kept out of public sight. The lawsuit seeks to compel Abercrombie & Fitch to cease the alleged discriminatory policies and practices and to attain awards of pay, as well as compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief.