Abercrombie & Fitch, the megaclothier that’s accused of not hiring a Muslim teenager because she wears a religiously mandated head scarf, has a history of discrimination complaints.
The unnamed Tulsa teenager, who has not responded to requests for an interview, filed a complaint with the Oklahoma office of the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Oklahoma City.
Razi Hashmi, executive director of the Oklahoma Council on American-Islamic Relations, said an Abercrombie manager told the girl she was not hired to work at the Woodland Hills Mall store because her Islamic head scarf did not fit the Abercrombie image.
David Cupps, general counsel for Abercrombie & Fitch, said the company “has a longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion which is key to our company’s success.”
“Our culture gives the company the benefit of the perspectives of diverse individuals,” he said. “As a result, we are confident that when the facts relating to this matter are fully developed, the conclusion will be that Abercrombie & Fitch both fulfilled its legal obligation and lived up to its policy. Since we have not received any claim or completed our investigation, we have no further comment at this time.”
Abercrombie & Fitch has faced a number of lawsuits accusing the company of discriminating against minorities in hiring and employment practices, often tied to company image.
That image has been promoted in the Abercrombie & Fitch catalogs, which are filled with photos of thin, blond, athletic, mostly white young men and women, often in sexually suggestive poses and scantily clad.
In 2004, Abercrombie & Fitch was accused by the EEOC of violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by adopting a restrictive marketing image that limited the hiring of minorities, who did not conform to the image, among other things.
The company reached a settlement with the EEOC and private parties in which they agreed to pay $50 million and were enjoined from discriminating against job applicants based on race, color and national origin; discriminating against women; and denying promotional opportunities to women and minorities.
At that time, Eric Dreiband, the EEOC’s general counsel, said the retail industry “needs to know that businesses cannot discriminate against individuals under the auspice of a marketing strategy or a particular ‘look.’ “