According to court documents, the workers alleged that Abercrombie coerces its employees into buying the brand's clothes to wear at work and that the employees are not reimbursed by the company for the cost of those clothes, which reduces their minimum-wage earnings. The plaintiffs stated that they could prove they were forced to buy clothing with testimony about companywide phone calls and other practices that Abercrombie used.
According to the plaintiffs, Abercrombie required its employees to purchase items from its "AAA Style Guide" booklet containing pictures of specific articles of clothing from Abercrombie's current season.This, the complaints state, essentially constitutes a uniform.
One of the complaint’s amended statements reads "Employees are required to buy and wear the clothing pictured in this booklet." And, "Named plaintiff Alexander Brown was fired from Abercrombie after failing to purchase Abercrombie clothing from the AAA Style Guide and was rehired when he purchased such Abercrombie clothing."
Under the terms of the settlement, $16.7 million will be provided to settle claims from the class and collective members, with the remainder of the funds going to associated costs and fees.
The class includes roughly 176,000 proposed class members and 82,000 collective members under the Fair Labor Standards Act. It covers all non-exempt Abercrombie employees in New York, Florida, Massachusetts and California during a set of class periods that vary by state but begin in 2009 and cease when the proposed settlement wins preliminary approval, according to the settlement documentation.
The cases are Alma Bojorquez et al. v. Abercrombie & Fitch Co. et al., case number 2:16-cv-00551, and Alexander Brown et al. v. Abercrombie & Fitch Co. et al., case number 2:17-cv-01093, both in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.