Abercrombie and Fitch settles discrimination lawsuit

New Albany-based clothing retailer Abercrombie and Fitch has agreed to settle several employment discrimination lawsuits. A federal judge in California gave preliminary approval to the settlement on Tuesday. Abercromie has agreed to pay $50-million in damages and change its hiring practices.

Abercrombie and Fitch was sued in federal court last year by individual plaintiffs, civil rights groups, and the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The suits, which have been combined for settlement purposes, accuse the retailer of favoring white men both in hiring and in the company’s branding.

Plaintiffs attorneys say they’ve documented hundreds of cases of minorities, not getting jobs at Abercrombie, being relegated to non-sales jobs, being fired because they didn’t fit the look of the store or failing to get promotions despite seniority.

Abercrombie and Fitch admits no wrong-doing but has signed on to a sweeping settlement. The company will create a 40-million dollar settlement fund to be paid out to anyone who was denied employment, or promotion as a result of discrimination. It will also pay approximately 10-million dollars for attorneys fees and outside monitoring of compliance with the settlement terms for up to 6 years. Abercrombie will create an office of diversity and has already hired a vice president for diversity. It will hire minority recruiters to seek out black, latino, asian and female employees. And it has agreed to certain minority hiring benchmarks.

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