Business, Economics and Jobs

France: Abercrombie & Fitch investigated for employment discrimination


Abercrombie & Fitch models pose outside the A&F store in Knightsbridge, a shopping mall in Singapore, on December 9, 2011.



French human rights watchdog Defenseur des Droits (Defender of Rights) has launched an investigation into whether US retailer Abercrombie & Fitch, which has two stores in France, is discriminating against job applicants who don’t have zero percent body fat and six-packs.

The retailer is known for posting bare-chested men at the entrances to its shops to attract customers. Passersby often take photos with the young Adonises.

In a 2006 interview with Salon, Abercrombie CEO Mike Jeffries said the company hires good-looking people to attract good-looking customers.

The company calls these employees “models,” but the watchdog says it suspects that the employees are actually salespeople. If so, Ambercrombie & Fitch is in trouble, since hiring a worker based on whether they have a chiseled jaw or toned physique is against French law.

"Though physical appearance may legitimately be a key and determining professional factor for models, that's not so for sales staff," Dominique Baudis, the head of the watchdog group, said in a statement.

“You cannot only look at appearances and not any other criteria,” Slimane Laoufi from Defenseur des Droits told the Local. “Discriminating against someone’s looks is just the same as discriminating against someone on the grounds of health or whether they are handicapped. They are all forbidden.”

Defenseur des Droits hope to report on its findings by the end of the year. In order to sue the company, the watchdog group will need to find someone who believes they were not hired to work there because of their looks.

More from GlobalPost: Lawsuit: Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Michael Jeffries instructed flight attendants to wear boxers, flip-flops