Legal Issues in Human Resources Management
Gonzalez v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc.
In November 2004, Eduardo Gonzalez filed a class action lawsuit against retailer Abercrombie & Fitch. The suit, representing Abercrombie & Fitch employees and applicants, claimed the retailer violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by discriminating against individuals based on sex and race. The suit claimed that Abercrombie hired a disproportionately white sales force, treated white employees favorably over minorities, promoted and hired white employees for the best positions, and discouraged minorities from applying for jobs. In the suit, employees and applicants claimed they were either not hired, or hired for back store positions, because they were either female or Latino, African American or Asian.
Eduardo Gonzalez was a student at Stanford University when he applied for a sales clerk position at the Cosa Mesa Abercrombie & Fitch store. He claimed that the hiring manager told him he should apply for the stock room or overnight position. Another claimant, Jennifer Lu, claimed she was terminated after having been an employee in good standing for three years after corporate executives complained she didn’t fit the Abercrombie & Fitch look. “All American doesn’t mean all white.” said Lu in a statement to the press. (Kelly 2003).
The case went to mediation and was settled in April 2005. Although Abercrombie & Fitch did not admit liability, they paid $50 million to resolve the class action case. In addition to monetary awards, Abercrombie & Fitch will implement diversity policies and procedures to ensure equal employment opportunities. They agreed to provide promotions and manager training to women and minorities. In addition, Abercrombie & Fitch agreed to hire a Vice President of Diversity and 25 diversity recruiters. A notice of Abercrombie & Fitch’s new diversity policies will be posted on the company’s intranet and distributed to its employees annually. Diversity training will be provided to hiring managers, and marketing materials will reflect models of diverse backgrounds. (EEOC).
Abercrombie & Fitch has committed to adapting a culture of diversity. As part of their diversity initiatives, they have implemented cultural awareness training. This training will promote an understanding of cultural...