Larry Elder

Abercrombie & Fitch, a chain that some say markets a "classic American look," faces a lawsuit, filed by a group of "civil rights organizations," aided by a law firm that specializes in "anti-discrimination cases."

Why? The clothier allegedly suddenly either fired or demoted Hispanic and Asian floor salespersons in favor of women possessing this so-called "all-American look" -- presumably blonde surfer types. (Note: A friend recently visited an Abercrombie & Fitch store and noted at least two Asian saleswomen.)

Abercrombie & Fitch, according to the lawsuit, suddenly terminated an Asian-American floor saleswoman, with three years experience, longer than any other employee in their Costa Mesa, Calif., store. Similarly, management allegedly asked Hispanic workers to either accept non-visible positions, such as stock clerk, or to leave the company altogether.

According to an attorney for the plaintiffs, "Through means both subtle and direct, Abercrombie has consistently reinforced to its store managers that they must recruit and maintain an overwhelmingly white workforce. The company has systematically cultivated an all-white 'A&F Look' and then faulted Latino, African American and Asian American applicants, potential recruits and employees for failing to fit this racially exclusive image." The plaintiffs further claim that Abercrombie & Fitch "direct that minority Brand Representatives (salespersons) be fired, moved to a stockroom or overnight shift or have their hours 'zeroed out,' which is the equivalent of termination." One plaintiff said, "Abercrombie's corporate representatives came to our store on an inspection tour, pointed to a picture of a white male model and told the manager that he needed to make the store 'look more like this.' Within two weeks, five Asian American employees, including me, were terminated and an African American Brand Representative was transferred to the night shift at a different store. The store then hired about five white Brand Representatives to replace us."

Let's analyze this.


Larry Elder

Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit www.LarryElder.com.