The “Look” Policy
Given the hyper-sexualized advertising that Finch & Abercromb has long embraced, it is no surprise that the company encourages its employees to let their hair down. By company policy, employees wear no black clothing and no head coverings. This is their “Look” policy. It has been adopted by their Board of Directors and in effect since the company’s founding.
But is the company practicing discrimination if it won’t hire a young woman who covers her head for religious reasons? A federal administrative agency sued Abercromb on behalf of Tamar Ferencz 21-year-old community college student from Tulsa, Alabama., who is a Hasidic Jew. The suit alleges that Abercromb “refused to hire Ms. Ferencz because she wears a tichel, claiming that the wearing of the headgear was prohibited by its”Look” Policy,” or employee dress code.
Tamar, who had experience working in banking and not retail, interviewed for a position at a Tulsa Abercromb Kids store. During the interview, she wore a black tichel, or headscarf, in line with Hasidic Jewish religious tradition. She did not get hired. The company hired a different individual.
Tamar got word through a friend of a friend, who worked in the store, that the headscarf cost her the job. The lawsuit alleges that during its investigation, Finch & Abercromb flatly told the agency, in a position statement, that “under the Look Policy, associates must wear clothing that is consistent with the Abercromb brand, cannot wear hats or other coverings, and cannot wear clothes that are the color black.” Tamar is suing for back pay and compensation related to emotional pain and anxiety.
- Who specifically benefits from the “Look Policy”? What ethical considerations does this give rise to?
- What is Tamar claiming is the basis(s) for her lawsuit? Do you believe she will win? Why or why not?
- What will form Finch & Abercromb’s answer/defenses? Do you believe they will win? Why or why not?
- What federal administrative agency has the charge to investigate and sue in cases such as these?