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Age discrimination suit reveals troubling info about Abercrombie

A Pennsylvania pilot's age discrimination suit against retail giant Abercrombie and Fitch has revealed new information about the company and its somewhat eccentric CEO. Some of those details, including the information about the company's private jet, had led to questions about the state of employment within the corporation. The pilot says that he was fired arbitrarily and then replaced with a much younger employee.

The age discrimination lawsuit seems to be making its case by emphasizing the extent to which the CEO values youth and beauty, which extends to all areas of his life, according to the filing in federal court in Philadelphia. The CEO apparently hires much of his personal staff and service workers through a modeling agency, which includes flight attendants on the corporate jet. The models working on the plane are held to a dress code similar to what is required of employees in the retail stores, which is meticulously described.

Among the highly specific requirements is one that instructs male flight attendants to wear only boxer briefs while working on the corporate jet. They are also instructed to wear the brand's cologne and prohibited from wearing coats unless it reached 50 degrees or colder. When employees do wear jackets to keep warm, they must flip the collar up and follow specific instructions on buttoning the coat.

While many retailers and other companies have specific dress codes for their employees, few rise to this level of specificity. The highly regulated clothing choices, including that prescribing the type of underwear that employees must wear, suggests a work environment that may border on hostile and a boss that may have an over-sexualized view of his staff.

Abercrombie has come under scrutiny for possible discrimination in the past for religious and disability discrimination and faced a class action lawsuit for racial discrimination.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Pilots suit details Abercrombie's exec's casual dress code for flight crews," Sapna Maheshwari, Oct. 22, 2012.

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