Yesterday, we told you about American Apparel's practice of making hires and promotions based largely on "full body" employee photos. We now have internal documents and photos detailing the policy—plus, former employees vent on life in AA's fashion dungeon.
The Employee Photo Guide
Need more details on AA's practice of vetting job candidates based on photos? A former AA manager sent us this nifty how-to guide, posted on the company's intranet:
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And here's a "Fair example of how you should shoot photos to the 'firstname.lastname@example.org' computer." In case you were unclear.
"The New Standard" at American Apparel
One recently departed employee sent us the first four pages of the contract that new AA employees are asked to sign. It's more of an indoctrination sheet, with a glowing history of AA and Dov Charney, guidelines for how employees are to apply makeup, cover up piercings and tattoos, and—most importantly—these instructions for how to remain "on brand" in "The New Standard":
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The Employees Speak
We received quite a few emails from current and former AA employees relating their own experiences with AA's hiring and firing policies. Many said that the company's practice of photographing all job applicants has been going for years. A sample:
American Apparel is full of it when they tell you that staff photos or "class photos" as they call them, are infrequent. When I was managing we had to send photos into our store consultant (a high school dropout) weekly... Not only did they police our clothes but our eyebrows, makeup, nails and hair color. They also openly mocked employees by posting photos of them online. Our store consultant also on several occasions told girls to lose weight or told them they were "too top heavy for crop tops"...They routinely denied applications based on looks or shoes.
One former AA employee decided to try to get her friend a job there as well, and submitted the friend's photo:
The response from one of Dov's favored models, who is also a hiring manager, was incredibly rude.Her response concerning my friend was as follows.
"Her hair is bad, and I think that I can see a nose piercing. Also, she's not wearing our best styles. She will not be considered."
[And after the employee asked the manager to reconsider]:
"It's not a matter of change, its a matter of taste. We are looking for fashion leaders, not fashion laggers."
Another former AA manager says that she received the following instructions as to what kind of black girls she should try to hire during the company's open calls:
"none of the trashy kind that come in, we don't want that. we're not trying to sell our clothes to them. try to find some of these classy black girls, with nice hair, you know?"
i will remember that forever, especially the "nice hair" part. he was instructing another manager and i on who to look for during an upcoming open call, and i sat there dumbfounded, listening to him speak while the other manager made "uh huh, got it" sounds on her end of the phone. the other manager on the call with me later became a district manager, and at one point instructed me to tell two of my employees (both of whom happened to be black females) to stop straightening their hair. i refused to do this, but wondered if the mentality behind her request was related to what dov had said.