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Group Sex News | retailer can't pull wool over our eyes

retailer can't pull wool over our eyes

Stroll through the Cherry Hill Mall, and you see all manner of diversity coalescing at cash registers.

There's a black man with a ponytail ringing up a white woman's lingerie at Victoria's Secret.

At Foot Locker, clerks whose dunking days are long gone help would-be Iversons find shoes.

And over in the food court, non-Mexicans toil at Taco Bell without raising any eyebrows.

Given the way the masses manage to buy and sell to one another everywhere else in the mall, who can blame Brandy Hawk from thinking she could work at Abercrombie and Fitch?

Hawk, a 19-year-old Burlington City college student, had retail experience at Old Navy. She wore Abercrombie and Fitch clothing. She wanted to sell it.

Brandy applied and had a very favorable interview, her lawyer, Bryan Clobes, told me.

But Brandy didn't get the gig.

The store manager didn't tell her directly, but Brandy says she heard from an employee it was because she didn't have the right look.

Nor could she acquire it.

Brandy, you see, is black.

And the A and F look?

The hip, youth-oriented company describes it as Classic American and cool, casual, classic and fun.

Think surfer boys and sorority girls. Think jocks and prom queens.

Clobes has a shorter, more illicit definition for it: white.

Pick a lawsuit, any lawsuit

PR types swear any publicity is good publicity, but I can't imagine the last six months have been cool, casual or fun for the folks running Abercrombie and Fitch's 600-plus stores.

Last week, Brandy Hawk filed a federal lawsuit in Camden accusing the clothing chain of having a whites-only hiring policy.

In June, nine young people of and Latino descent made the same allegation in a lawsuit in San Francisco.

In the summer, Abercrombie and Fitch paid $2.2 million to settle allegations it forced salesclerks in California to buy and wear its clothes on the job.

And this holiday season, critics across the country are accusing the chain of peddling pornography to teenagers via its racy $7 magazine.

The cover of A and F Quarterly says nothing about clothes, but does boast of 280 pages of moose, ice hockey, chivalry, group sex and more.

Of those 280 pages, more than 50 feature bare-breasted, butt-naked or barely clothed models.

Sex as we know it can involve one or two, but what about even more? reads the caption beneath one photo of 11 comely coeds posing in the buff.

The menage a trois (three-way) is not an uncommon arrangement, the caption explains for the uninitiated. An orgy can involve an unlimited quantity of potential lovers.

Who's got the look?

Brandy Hawk's lawsuit concerns matters of the flesh, too.

In it, she alleges that Abercrombie and Fitch - so driven to promote its look - hires only whites to sell it.

The company's response? The usual no comment.

Now, employers have discretion to hire on appearance, but courts generally forbid decisions based on race, gender, religion or national origin.

They might want athletic people with a good healthy build, explains Stephen Schappe, a management professor at Pennsylvania State University's Harrisburg campus.

But as soon as you say they must be white, you're excluding people who have just as much potential to be youthful or hip-looking.

Legally, there's little wiggle room, says Mary Ellen Maatman of Widener University's School of Law.

Unless you can prove that otherwise discriminatory hiring is essential to the business - such as a nursing home hiring only women for jobs requiring intimate contact with female patients, or a Chinese restaurant hiring only Chinese servers to offer diners an authentic ethnic experience.

But race can never be an exception, Maatman said.

So a clothing chain selling distressed denim to college kids would have a tough time arguing only white people can do it.

I don't know, Maatman said, if a court would be persuaded by a 'look.'

Especially not a Classic American look that doesn't look like America at all.

Full credit for this group sex news article goes to: Philadelphia Inquirer, PA

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