Abercrombie to pay $50M to settle discrimination suit

LOS ANGELES -- Abercrombie & Fitch has agreed to pay $50 million to settle a lawsuit that accused the clothing-store chain of promoting whites over minorities and cultivating a virtually all-white image in its catalogs and elsewhere.\nThe settlement, approved Tuesday, calls for Abercrombie & Fitch to pay $40 million to black, Hispanic and Asian employees and job applicants and $10 million for attorneys' fees and to monitor compliance of its changes.\nThe federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission estimated more than 10,000 Hispanic, Asian or black men and women could share in the settlement.\nThe lawsuit was filed by Hispanic and Asian groups. They charged Abercrombie & Fitch, known for its "classic casual American" clothing styles, hires a disproportionately white sales force and puts minorities in less-visible jobs.\n"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," said Eric Dreiband, EEOC general counsel.\nAbercrombie & Fitch chief executive Mike Jeffries said: "We have, and always have had, no tolerance for discrimination. We decided to settle this suit because we felt that a long, drawn-out dispute would have been harmful to the company and distracting to management."\nThe settlement also calls for the company to hire a vice president of diversity and hire 25 diversity recruiters.\nThe original lawsuit was brought on behalf of nine young minorities, including students and graduates of Stanford University and the University of California, who said they were denied jobs or fired because of their race.

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