A&F Faces Discrimination Suit

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A Chicago-based civil rights organization and three Philadelphia law firms yesterday filed a class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Camden, NJ, alleging discrimination by Abercrombie & Fitch.

Filing on behalf of the plaintiff, Brandy Hawk, a New Jersey resident, and the proposed class are the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition as well as Sidney L. Gold & Associates P.C.; Kohn, Swift & Graf, P.C. and Miller Faucher and Cafferty.

According to Sid Gold, president of Sidney L. Gold & Associates, Hawk applied for a sales associate position at the company's store in Cherry Hill, NJ. The complaint alleges that despite the recommendation of an initial Abercrombie interviewer to hire Hawk, the company did not hire her because she is black.

"We cannot comment on the merits of this suit because we haven't been served with the complaint," Abercrombie & Fitch said in a statement.

"[She] made the application in May and was turned down sometime in early June," Gold said. "She was told she didn't represent the image that the company wanted to portray. The company talks about an 'A&F look,' and if you see the image portrayed in stores, from my deduction it's a preppy, fraternity, sorority look."

Gold added that Hawk was not provided with any details regarding why she would be unable to represent the company's image.

He is hoping for the suit to be nationwide and cited a similar suit filed against the company in California.

"We will likely get combined in some multi-district litigation," said Gold, who added that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is investigating charges filed with the agency this summer on behalf of Hawk. He also cited a letter of determination from the EEOC in Los Angeles, dated Sept. 13, 2001, that he read from: "Evidence obtained ... revealed that Latinos and blacks as a class were denied permanent positions, denied assignments and treated in an unfair manner with regard to recruitment, based on their race and national origin."

He added that he wants the court to grant injunctive relief directing the company to change its hiring practices as well as monetary damages for wages lost as a result of the failure to hire as well as damages for emotional distress, humiliation and loss of self-esteem. The process could take one to two years.


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