A federal judge ruled this week that a former Abercrombie & Fitch sales associate could proceed with parts of a suit against the company that the plaintiff had accused of discriminating against her because of her hair color.
In a complaint filed last year, Dulazia Burchette, who worked at the retailer’s New York flagship on Fifth Avenue, alleged supervisors told her to re-dye blonde highlights in her hair because they did not look natural. Burchette, who is African-American, said a manager told her she should “have the hair color she was born with.” In the complaint, Burchette alleged that “white-Caucasian sales associates were not targeted for scrutiny for their hair color….”
The former sales associate left the store of her own accord in June 2008 after about nine months of employment.
Abercrombie moved to have the case dismissed in January.
In a decision handed down on March 30, Judge Richard Berman of the Southern District of New York dismissed several of Burchette’s claims, including conspiracy, constructive discharge and those against her individual store supervisors. However, Berman ruled Burchette could continue the action on her claims of race discrimination, retaliation and a hostile work environment.
The judge also allowed Burchette’s attorneys to continue to pursue evidence that Abercrombie & Fitch Co. chairman and chief executive officer Mike Jeffries could be named as a defendant in the case. In an amended complaint filed in December, Burchette alleged Jeffries is the chief architect of the company’s look policy.
An Abercrombie representative said the company had no comment on the ruling.