NEW YORK — A former employee at the clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch who was born female but identifies as male has filed a federal lawsuit against the company for allegedly being asked to wear the women’s uniform.
Maha Shalaby is seeking $35 million as she claims that she was “badgered” to wear female clothing at the store’s Manhattan location. She says that she was initially told when she was hired that she could wear men’s clothes, but was informed later that company policy requires her to dress as a female.
According to the lawsuit, Shalaby states that a manager told her she must “only wear a girls uniform because that’s what customers want to see.” However, she was offered the night shift as an alternative so that she could wear men’s clothing yet not be seen by the public.
Abercrombie & Fitch—which often uses risque models—is known for its strict dress code, known as the look policy. Company rules ban tattoos and facial hair, and also provide guidelines on fingernail length and the use of makeup. Officials recently loosened restrictions due to a lawsuit from a Muslim employee who was prohibited from wearing a headscarf.
Shalaby was fired before the policy was relaxed, but it is unclear as to why her employment was terminated. Her lawsuit comes after the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) concluded that the company engaged in unlawful discrimination.
As previously reported, earlier this week, a medical researcher at the University of Wisconsin who was born male but identifies as female filed a discrimination complaint with the EEOC for being denied coverage for a sex change operation.
“To be singled out for a denial of coverage is hurtful and burdensome,” Shannon Andrews, 34, said in a statement released by the ACLU.
In the discrimination complaint, the ACLU asserts that the denial violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act because it is gender-related.
The organization also recently filed a discrimination complaint for a prison nurse who identifies as male and was likewise denied coverage for a sex change operation.