Abercrombie & Fitch may have another scandal on its hands. Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera has obtained internal emails from the preppy retailer's Milan outpost that expose some rather draconian store policies -- namely, punishing employees with push-ups and squats.
"Now every time we make a mistake [...] we will do ten push-ups. Squats for women. This will bring about a great result: we will learn more from our mistakes."
A former employee, who preferred to speak anonymously, confirmed to Corriere della Sera that he did do plenty of push-ups in his time at the Abercrombie in Milan. "That's how it works there -- you take it or leave it," he said.
If true, this only adds to to Abercrombie's history of controversial employee policies. In 2003 the company settled a suit for forcing employees to buy and wear its products while working, and in 2004, A&F paid $40 million in a federal class-action lawsuit over discrimination against black, Hispanic and Asian employees.
In 2009 the company was sued for forcing an employee with a prosthetic arm to work in the stockroom, and in recent years, three Muslim women have sued the retailer for not hiring (or firing) them because of their headscarves.
We've reached out to Abercrombie & Fitch for comment and will update when we hear back. Read the full story (if you're feeling confident in your Italian skills) on Milano.Corriere.it or an English-language take on the issue on Telegraph.co.uk.
UPDATE: Abercrombie & Fitch has responded to us with the following statement:
"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. Nevertheless, shortly after the Loss Prevention manager's supervisor learned of this incident, it was stopped. Upon investigation, we believe that the claims were greatly exaggerated and manufactured by a disgruntled employee. 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."