Abercrombie & Fitch takes flak over employee appearance policy

Is barring teen employees from dyeing their hair anything but a ‘natural’ color asking too much? Some commenters think so.

When it’s not busy naming hospital buildings after itself, Abercrombie & Fitch tends to sell things like jeans, button-down shirts, graphic T’s and the occasional pair of cargo pants. The company’s legions of workers, who are mostly teens, must adhere to a stringent “Look Policy” that the company has recently proffered. The policy gives hardworking store managers an easy-to-follow guidepost when hiring new A&F minions. Recently, BuzzFeed got a hold of the Look Policy, and it’s opened the door to some criticism for the company. Here are a few highlights—no pun intended—from the hair section:

All hairstyles for men and women should appear neat, clean, natural, kempt and classic. No associate is permitted to wear any extreme hair styles or hair color. Hair styles and hair color should reflect your natural beauty.

From the appearance section:

Foundation, base or blush can only be worn if it is applied in such a way to look completely natural (i.e. to match natural skin tone). Fingernails should not extend more than 1/4 inch beyond the tip of the finger. Although a natural nail is preferred, if polish is worn, it should be clear or natural in color.

The comments on the BuzzFeed article are a mixed bag. Some say the rules are awfully strict for an after-school job for young adults, the people most likely to have wildly colored hair. Others say the rules simply ask employees to look professional for work.

A&F is certainly familiar with criticism of late. Activist and YouTube video director Greg Karber took clothing brand Abercrombie and Fitch to task in a video last spring. Then in June, the company was sued by a Muslim woman who was fired from a Hollister store for wearing a Hijab. The company claimed that it hurt sales, although a federal judge ruled last week that A&F offered no “credible evidence” of this and that it had wrongfully terminated the employee. (Image via Abercrombie/BuzzFeed)


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