Student With Prosthetic Arm Sues Clothing Retailer For “discrimination”

by Gopalan on  June 25, 2009 at 10:52 AM Medico Legal News   - G J E 4
 Student With Prosthetic Arm Sues Clothing Retailer For “discrimination”
Riam Dean, a British student with a prosthetic arm, is seeking damages for disability discrimination from US clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch.

She says the discrimination she suffered while working at the firm's prestigious Savile Row unit in London has left her traumatised.

Miss Dean, 22, told an employment tribunal that she would have stayed with the company until her law qualification was complete, had she not been "bullied" out of her job. She has just finished her final exams at Queen Mary, University of London.

She had been born with her left forearm missing. Originally the firm granted her special permission to wear a cardigan to cover the join in her arm. But she was later removed from the shop floor and made to work in the stockroom because the cardigan did not adhere to the strict dress code.

Her manager told her she could return to the shop floor of the store if she removed the cardigan.

"I felt personally diminished, humiliated and could not argue a point I could never win," she said.

"Abercrombie taught me that beauty lies in perfection, but I would tell them that beauty lies in diversity, for I would rather live with my imperfection than to exude such ugliness as in their blatant display of eugenics in policies and practices."

Miss Dean added that, when she left the company, she "wasn't the same person."

"I didn't want to socialise," she said.

"If I did go outside the family home. I felt so self-conscious, I would cover up and wear long cardigans despite it being summer.

"I knew I would need another job, but I couldn't face rejection all over again.

"I began to assume that my arm would always cause me such trouble.

"I was always prepared for children to be curious about my disability, but to be faced with adult bullying, no one could have prepared me for such debasement."

Abercrombie & Fitch has yet to respond to the allegations in the tribunal but before the hearing a spokeswoman for the company said Miss Dean's portrayal of what occurred was "inaccurate".

She added: "We regret that Miss Dean has felt it necessary to bring a claim to the employment tribunal.

"Abercrombie & Fitch has a strong anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policy and is committed to providing a supportive and dignified environment for all its employees."

The case continues.

Source: Medindia

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