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12.06.2003

This should come as a surprise to absolutely no one 

Coming up on 60 minutes:



Two ex-managers for a clothing chain accused of discrimination say corporate representatives of the chain, Abercrombie & Fitch, routinely had them reduce the hours of less attractive salespeople.

The two former managers - who say they were hired for their good looks - appear in a Morley Safer report on the trendy retail chain on 60 Minutes, Sunday at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Dan Moon and Andrea Mandrick say Abercrombie & Fitch were after a certain "look" for their sales force, and the less a salesperson had of this look, the less they worked.

"I was sick of getting my schedule back every week with lines through names," says Mandrick. "I can't look the people that work for me, that want to be there, in the eye and...lie to them and say 'Oh, we don't have hours,' when, really, it's because they weren't pretty enough."

Moon, a former model, had a similar experience and says his look is what got him a job. "I think it was 90 percent of it and your interaction with other people was 10 percent," he says.



Of course, since I'm the ultra-rational type, Abercrombie's discriminatory practices upset me because of the danger they pose to a free-market economy rather than because of their shallow (and in my opinion, ultimately counterproductive) nature. I don't really mind that all their models are blond and white -- it's quite plausible that such models help them sell more merchandise. But I find it quite hard to believe that applying such standards to salespeople really improves sales. Of course, the more important fact is that such practices hurt the section of the work force that's looking for employment in the retail industry but doesn't fit A&F's criteria.

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