$40 Million Settlement in Abercrombie & Fitch Suit

Clothing and apparel retailer Abercrombie & Fitch settled a class action federal discrimination lawsuit Tuesday for $40 million.. The money will be given to Black, Asian, and Latino employees and job applicants who were victims of the company’s racial practices, according to participating lawyers.

The settlement requires the company to stick to a “consent decree,” which promises the realization of new programs and policies that prevent discrimination in their work environment, and promotes diversity. Tuesday’s settlement was approved by Judge Susan Illston, who also agreed that the company should pay around $10 million to monitor the new compliances and to cover attorneys’ fees.

The lawsuit was originally filed in San Francisco last June by Asian and Latino groups who accused Abercrombie and Fitch of hiring disproportionately higher numbers of white applicants compared to applicants of other races, in order to maintain their “classic casual American” image. They also believed that the minorities who were hired by A&F were placed in less visible positions at work. The groups believe that one needs only to look to the virtually all-white A&F catalogue to gain insight to the image the company wants to portray.

Private parties who filed suit against the company were joined by The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, who believed that Abercrombie & Fitch violated portions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The suit repeated the claims that the Asian and Latino groups filed suit for.

"The retail industry and other industries need to know that businesses cannot discriminate against individuals under the auspice of a marketing strategy or a particular ‘look.’ Race and sex discrimination in employment are unlawful, and the EEOC will continue to aggressively pursue employers who choose to engage in such practices," Eric Dreiband, the EEOC’s general counsel told the Associated Press. 

Abercrombie & Fitch has not released a statement regarding the settlement.