Employees at an Abercrombie & Fitch store were made to do press-ups if they failed to greet customers correctly, according to a leaked email.
An internal message to staff from a manager at the US fashion chain’s flagship Milan store, which was leaked to the Italian Corriere della Sera
newspaper, reportedly said: “From today, every time we make an error, we’ll have to do 10 press-ups, or squats for the women.”
The manager reassured them that being punished in this way would “bring about a great result – we will learn from our mistakes”.
But according to the Daily Mail
, union leaders have now called for action over the situation. Graziella Carneri, from Italy’s biggest union, the CGIL
, said that the “dignity of staff” was being compromised by such regulations, adding: “If this is the American model, then we have little to learn from them.”
The company email was sent last April, but Abercrombie & Fitch attests that the punishment regime is no longer in place.
A spokesperson said: “We have conducted an internal investigation into this matter, and it appears that the reference to push-ups and squats was a clearly misguided attempt at team-building by an isolated loss prevention manager in one of our flagship stores.”
Such activity was stopped shortly after the manager’s supervisor learned about it and “upon investigation, we believe that the claims were greatly exaggerated and manufactured by a disgruntled employee”, the spokesperson added.
“Needless to say, using push-ups or any physical activity for discipline is not A&F policy. It never has been, and it never will be”, they said.
But it is not the first time that Abercrombie & Fitch has faced criticism for its policies. In 2009, it was sued by Riam Dean, who worked at its Savile Row branch in London.
She claimed that she was removed from working on the shop floor and limited to the stockroom because her prosthetic arm did not fit the company’s policy on how employees should look.
She sued the organisation for discrimination and won a wrongful dismissal suit in August 2009. Dean was awarded £7,800 for injury to her feelings and £1,077 for loss of earnings.