The Strategic Workforce Planning Process: Abercrombie & Fitch and Hooters Case Study

To date, despite many companies claiming that talent is their most valuable resource, only a few operate as though talent and talent management are vital to their mission. Talent management determines the ability of an organization to attract, recruit, develop and retain top staff. Job requirements are increasingly becoming more demanding due to the rise in information and knowledge-oriented economies. Businesses that fail to employ workforce planning process face ethical, compliance, and legal issues that may damage their image. Abercrombie & Fitch and Hooters are among the companies that have faced controversies and court cases because of their ineffective talent management. This paper describes court cases relating to Abercrombie & Fitch and Hooters, the companies’ workforce planning process, and case outcomes. It also highlights an example of a company that has effectively used the workforce planning process.

Court Cases and Outcomes

Abercrombie & Fitch Company

In the case between EEOC and Abercrombie & Fitch Company, Elauf, a practicing Muslim was denied a position at the company, because her headscarf conflicted with the company’s dress code. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit against the company on behalf of Elauf, on the basis that the discrimination was based on religion, a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (International Labour Law Reports On, 2017). Another example of a court case involving the campy was between EEOC and Abercrombie & Fitch. In this particular case, EEOC argued that the respondent engaged in “image discrimination” through its practice of only hiring white attractive young people whose appearance projected or conformed to the company’s advertising motive (O’Neill & O’Neill, 2012, p. 84).

The outcome of the case between the EEOC and ABERCROMBIE & FITCH STORES was as follows: the Supreme Court held that an employer must not refuse to hire an applicant based on such a justification if the decision is motivated by their desire to avoid accommodating a religious practice (Kaminer, 2016). Disparate treatment can be caused by the failure to accommodate according to Title VII. Pertaining to the second case about image discrimination, the company agreed to a settlement of $50 million to resolve the lawsuit along with other class actions field earlier by different parties. Abercrombie and Fitch also agreed to develop and implement better hiring and recruiting strategies to ensure compliance and assured promotion of minorities and women without discrimination.

Hooters Company Court

The most known court case filed against Hooters Company involved alleged sexual harassment by customers and other employees. In the case, waitresses employed by the “Hooters” restaurant chain alleged that the kind of clothes they were required to wear on duty encouraged male customers and other employees to harass them. This situation contributed to a hostile environment which is also covered by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Gettman & Gelfand, 2007. The company did not suffer a lot in terms of penalties except on the fines, which arguably be considered a way of silencing the plaintiff. All the cases got settled for an undisclosed amount before they could enter the trial. The Hooters settlement was an indication of potential sexual harassment in the company. Another court case happened in December 1993, in which Savino Latuga and David Gonzales alleged that the company had engaged in discrimination based on sex during hiring. Sex discrimination is cited in Title VII. EEOC required Hooters to establish a $10 million settlement fund for the identified discriminated male victims. The company was, however, successful in pressuring the EEOC to withdraw the case.

Strategic Workforce Planning of the Companies

Abercrombie and Fitch (A&F) company has undergone several stages in the search for a working workforce plan. Its success in changing its talent management focus created an opportunity to overcome compliance and legal challenges that had crippled its competitiveness in a significant manner. The company pays great attention to employee retention while innovatively focusing on means of attracting top talents. One of the competitive advantages is its workforce. Despite controversies, Hooters has developed an effective strategy over the past years to attract young, good-looking women that have been the cause of its popularity, especially among those that consider customer service vital in making decisions on the service to purchase. When faced with appearance-based discrimination lawsuits during recruitment, Hooters management responded by arguing that such appearance requirements were bona fide qualifications for the job as far as their marketing strategy is concerned, which most people could understand. The restaurant chain prides itself on loyal employees willing to represent the brand in various ways. Hooters invests heavily in the employee life cycle at the company, from being hire to the retirement. Doing so has enabled it to create strategies that are favorable to the employees, such as an effective e-learning system that builds consistency in its training across the entire system.

There are a few companies in the modern business world that could be used as a perfect example the significance of a workforce planning process. For example, PayPal has developed an innovative talent management strategy that has reduced legal and compliance issues for the last few tears unlike what it was like a decade or two ago. The company focuses on ways to understand its employees’ journeys, identify their needs, and design performance management system that meets those needs. Recently, it partnered with Even, an on-demand pay platform, to help its employee’s access salaries early and show its commitment towards improving their financial wealth of its workforce. Consequently, the employees have the ability to budget and grow their savings, while retaining the control over their spending. It has achieved a strong gender balance, with approximately the same percentage of men and women staff globally (Schulman, 2016). These strategies have bolstered innovation by relying on satisfied, loyal, and committed employees.

Conclusion

Abercrombie & Fitch and Hooters have experienced many compliance issues and lawsuits that have shaped their current strategy. Abercrombie & Fitch has faced religious discrimination cases, whereas most of the court cases that Hooters was on sex discrimination. The companies have had distinct workforce planning processes that have enabled them to remain resilient amidst competition and legal issues. Organizations will need to focus on developing a strategy that supports improvement in performance and productivity, as exemplified by PayPal. A manageable workforce planning process is a crucial resource for modern organizations.

References

Gettman, H. J., & Gelfand, M. J. (2007). When the customer shouldn’t be King: Antecedents and consequences of sexual harassment by clients and customers. Journal of Applied Psychology92(3), 757-770. https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.92.3.757

International Labour Law Reports On, E. (2017). United States of America: Federal Supreme Court Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Abercrombie & Fitch stores, Inc. 135 S.Ct. 2028 (2015). International Labour Law Reports Online35(1), 151-156. https://doi.org/10.1163/22116028-90000120

Kaminer, D. (2016). Religious accommodation in the American workplace: The consequences of the Supreme Court decision in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch. SSRN Electronic Journalhttps://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2794129

O’Neill, J., & O’Neill, D. M. (2012). The declining importance of race and gender in the labor market: The role of employment discrimination policies. Rowman & Littlefield.

Schulman, D. (2016). Building an inclusive and diverse workforce at PayPal. PayPal Newsroom. https://newsroom.paypal-corp.com/Building-an-Inclusive-and-Diverse-Workforce-at-PayPal