Abercrombie & Fitch sued for racial discrimination

Abercrombie & Fitch sued for racial discrimination

Roller, Julia

SAN FRANCISCO-Nine former employees have filed a federal lawsuit against popular clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F), alleging that the company discriminates against people of color in its hiring practices, work assignments, and overall image.

“Through means both subtle and direct, Abercrombie has consistently reinforced to its store managers that they must recruit and maintain an overwhelmingly white work force,” says Thomas Saenz, vice president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, one of four organizations joining in the class action lawsuit.

Plaintiff Anthony Ocampo, a Filipino-American, alleges that non-white workers were either denied employment or were assigned work in the back of the Glendale, California, store where he worked. When he reapplied to the store during a summer break from college, he was told that he couldn’t be rehired because there were already “too many Filipinos” working there. Other plaintiffs assert that store managers preferred white employees for desirable job assignments and work schedules in order to present an all-white “A&F look” to customers.

A&F spokesperson Thomas Lennox declined to comment specifically on the case but responded that, “As a company that prides itself on diversity, we are dismayed by the lawsuit and take this matter very seriously.”

Sources: Palo Alto Weekly Online, USA Today, afjustic.com

Do you agree that A&F projects an all-white image in their ads, stores, and catalogs? Are you more likely to buy clothing if the models in the ads belong to your racial group? Why or why not? What to you is an all-American look? Is it just as discriminatory when a company projects an all-black image as when a company projects an all-white image? Why or why not?

Have you ever felt discriminated against because of your race? Explain. What are some biases you have against people of other races? How do these biases affect the way you behave toward or think about people from other ethnic groups? Do you think a workplace or a classroom is more effective with different kinds of people? Why or why not?

What, if any, is a Christian’s responsibility to those who are discriminated against? Explain. Would you change your purchasing habits if you had a negative opinion about a company’s business practices? Why or why not?

Scripture links: Deuteronomy 10:17; 2 Chronicles 19:7; Malachi 2:10; 1 Timothy 5:21 (impartiality); Matthew 5:46-47; John 4:7-9; and Acts 10:34-35 (prejudice).

Copyright Group Publishing, Inc. Nov/Dec 2003

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