Netflix’s ‘White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch’ chronicles the fashion brand’s increase in popularity once Mike Jeffries took over and the ensuing controversies it weathered. One of the more prominent ones was a class-action lawsuit filed by some of the company’s employees accusing Abercrombie & Fitch of discrimination. The documentary features interviews with Jennifer Sheahan, Dr. Anthony Ocampo, and Carla Barrientos, who were part of the case as plaintiffs. So, if you’re wondering what their experience was working for the brand and where they might be today, we’ve got you covered.
Who Are Jennifer Sheahan, Dr Anthony Ocampo, and Carla Barrientos?
Jennifer had been working at one of the stores close to the University of California, Irvine. As per the show, after the holiday season, the employees were told that if they didn’t receive a paycheck, they were let go. Jennifer was one of those employees and wondered what had happened. She then spoke to the assistant manager, who mentioned a visit from somebody from corporate. According to Jennifer, “They said, ‘You need to have more staff that looks like this.’ They pointed to an Abercrombie poster. It was a Caucasian model.”
Something similar happened to Carla Barrientos, who was about 19 years old when she was working at an Abercrombie & Fitch store. At the time, Carla wasn’t given a lot of hours, and the ones she did receive were at night. When she urged her manager to schedule her in the morning, she was told there weren’t many slots available. At that point, Carla mentioned that she had a friend who agreed to swap a shift with her, but the manager didn’t agree to that either.
Carla later said, “I wasn’t blind. I could see who was working in the day when I would go to the mall and hang out with friends or shop with family, and they did not look like me as far as the color of their skin. They were white, still young like me, but they were not Black. They were not Latino. They were not Asian.” A friend later suggested that she wasn’t being scheduled in the morning because she was black.
Anthony was yet another former employee who shared his experience with the fashion brand. As per the show, he was told they couldn’t hire him because there were already too many Filipinos working at the store. However, he never disclosed to them the fact that he was Filipino. In a 2003 interview, he said, “The greeters and the people that worked in the in-season clothing, most of them white, if not all of them, were white. The people that worked in the stock room, where nobody sees them, were mostly Asian-American, Filipino, Mexican, Latino.”
In June 2003, Anthony, Carla, and Jennifer were part of a lawsuit filed by several other minority employees against Abercrombie & Fitch for racial and sex discrimination. The company was then ordered to pay a $40 million settlement to the plaintiffs in addition to the legal fees. Abercrombie & Fitch then agreed to hire diversity recruiters. It was also asked to change the recruitment process, which mainly targeted white fraternities and sororities. In the same vein, the settlement called for a change in its advertisements that mostly included white models.
Where Are Jennifer Sheahan, Dr Anthony Ocampo, and Carla Barrientos Now?
Jennifer graduated from the University of California, Irvine, and later attended veterinary school in Oklahoma. She now works at a veterinary hospital in Irvine and is interested in ophthalmic pharmacology and retinal diseases. Apart from that, Jennifer enjoys traveling, photography, and spending time with family.
Anthony is a Ph.D. scholar and a writer based out of Los Angeles, California. He has researched immigration and race issues and has written two books, one of which deals with the lives of gay men of color from immigrant families. Apart from that, Anthony is an associate professor of sociology at Cal Poly Pomona, California.
Carla graduated from California State University in Bakersfield, Kern County, with a master’s degree in education. She now works as a program specialist at
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