Abercrombie & Fitch faces French inquiry over 'models'

Abercrombie and Fitch's staffing policy may be discriminatory, it is alleged

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France's official human rights watchdog is investigating the US clothes retailer Abercrombie and Fitch (A&F) over possible discrimination based on job applicants' physical appearance.

The company says it employs models to attract customers, but the watchdog says it suspects that the employees are in fact salespeople.

Bare-chested men at its shops pose for photos beside young female customers.

The regulator says good looks should not be required for sales staff.

The rights watchdog - "defenseur des droits" in French - said the company had lost discrimination lawsuits in the US and Britain in the past.

"Though physical appearance may legitimately be a key and determining professional factor for models, that's not so for sales staff," said the head of the watchdog, Dominique Baudis.

A&F, which is seen as portraying an image of sexiness and glamour, has a flagship store on the Champs-Elysees avenue in central Paris.

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