Sued Over the Dress Code
If you require employees to wear particular clothing on the job, pay attention to a recent $2.2 million settlement between Abercrombie & Fitch and some former workers. California and other states mandate that employers foot the bill if they require uniforms or gear, such as steel-toed boots for construction workers. Like many retailers, A&F requires sales associates to wear its apparel when they're working on the floor. But Miles Locker, chief lawyer for the state labor commissioner, says that the Ohio-based retailer tried to shift the expense to employees. "Workers who weren't dressed 'in season' were told by management to buy appropriate clothing on the spot or face the risk of being sent home unpaid," says Locker, who brought a class-action suit against A&F. The Feds may also get involved, Locker adds, subtracting the cost of clothing from a worker's salary and thus determining that they have essentially been paid less than the minimum wage. California has filed similar suits against Chico's, the Gap, and Polo-Lauren. In June, A&F settled the case with no admission of wrongdoing.