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62,000 employees are suing Abercrombie & Fitch over its notorious “look policy”

In this Nov. 14, 2011 photo, a shopper carries her Abercrombie & Fitch purchase, in Phoenix.
AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin
Employees are shopping there, too.
By Marc Bain
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Abercrombie & Fitch’s workplace “look policy” continues ticking people off. The American retailer of rumpled, California surf-prep is known for dictating what its employees can and can’t wear on the job. It’s even gone as far as to tell its workers how to do their hair, and not long ago its policy brought it all the way to the US Supreme Court, after it refused to hire a Muslim woman because her hijab didn’t meet company guidelines. (No surprise: Abercrombie lost.)

Now the retailer has 62,000 employees lined up against it in a class-action suit that was certified in California last week. The employees say that, in violation of the state’s labor codes, Abercrombie forces workers to wear its clothing, which means they have to buy new clothes every time the company issues a new sales guide. They say the company won’t reimburse them for the purchases, which is also a violation.

Abercrombie allegedly also sent employees home or reduced their shifts if they showed up to work and didn’t meet the retailer’s strict requirements. Reed Marcy, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, described the action as discriminatory and illegal, in a story on the Huffington Post.

Quartz has reached out to Abercrombie for comment and will update this story as warranted.

Lately when Abercrombie’s name has come up in the news, it hasn’t been for anything good. The company has drawn criticism for not selling women’s sizes XL or XXL because they don’t want overweight women wearing their clothes. It has been accused of harassment and discrimination. Then, after years of sales declines, its controversial CEO, Michael Jeffries, stepped down. Sales have kept falling, and its stock has been in a four-year slide, currently down to around $20 per share from more than $70 in 2011.

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