Abercrombie & Fitch under fire for telling staff to do press-ups when they make mistakes
THE famously image-conscious clothing company Abercrombie & Fitch has come under fire in Italy for ordering staff in a flagship store to perform press-ups and squats if they failed to meet its exacting standards.
Under the boot camp-style diktat, male staff who failed to greet a customer with sufficient cheeriness or follow the order of a superior were told to drop to the floor and perform 10 push-ups.
Female members of staff who failed to measure up were given 10 squats.
"From today, every time we make an error we'll have to do 10 press-ups, or squats for the women," said a company email, leaked to Corriere della Sera newspaper. "This will bring about a great result - we will learn from our mistakes."
The draconian regime was implemented at Abercrombie & Fitch's flagship shop in Milan, which employs around 200 full-time staff.
"I had to do a lot of press-ups," one former employee, who declined to give his full name, told the newspaper. "That's how it works there - you take it or leave it." The strict regime was criticised by union leaders. "If this is the American model, then we have little to learn from them," said Graziella Carneri from CGIL, Italy's largest union.
The "dignity of staff" was being compromised by such strict rules and regulations, she said.
The company email dates to last April and it was not clear if the punitive exercise regime was still operating.
A spokesman for Abercrombie & Fitch in London declined to comment on the story when contacted by The Daily Telegraph.
It is not the first time the American company has been criticised for its strictly-enforced "look policy", which stipulates that staff should embrace a wholesome, preppy look.
Employees are told their hairstyles must be "clean and natural" and women's fingernails must extend no more than a quarter of an inch beyond the tip of the finger.
In 2009 the American company was sued by a British member of staff , Riam Dean, who said she was consigned to working in a stockroom at a London outlet because her prosthetic arm did not fit the firm's policy on how its employees should look.
Miss Dean, then 22, who was working as a sales assistant in the company's Savile Row branch, claimed she was removed from working on the shop floor because of her disability.
She said she was left "diminished and humiliated" and sued the company for discrimination in an employment tribunal.
She won her wrongful dismissal case against the retail giant in Aug 2009 and was awarded £7,800 compensation for injury to her feelings and £1,077 for loss of earnings.