Page last updated at 18:06 GMT, Thursday, 13 August 2009 19:06 UK

Woman wins clothes store tribunal

Riam Dean
Miss Dean was born with her left forearm missing

A disabled woman from north-west London has won her employment tribunal against clothing giant Abercrombie and Fitch.

Riam Dean, 22, who has a prosthetic arm, claimed she was "diminished" for not fitting the "look policy" at the Savile Row store in central London.

A central London tribunal awarded Miss Dean £8,000 for unlawful harassment and ruled that Abercrombie and Fitch failed to comply with employment law.

But the tribunal found Miss Dean did not suffer disability discrimination.

Miss Dean, who has just finished exams at Queen Mary University in east London, had claimed she was made to work in the stockroom for not fitting the brand's "all-American" image.

The tribunal heard she resigned from the store following the spat and was left "distraught".

Riam showed great courage in bringing this case against a huge multi-national company
Steve Beverley, Miss Dean's solicitor

Abercrombie and Fitch (A&F) maintained throughout the hearing that it valued inclusiveness.

But the tribunal upheld Miss Dean's claim that she had been unlawfully harassed for a reason relating to her disability.

The judge found that A&F's handling of the row had failed to comply with employment law.

The tribunal surmised that Miss Dean, from Greenford, was wrongly dismissed.

But her claim of direct disability discrimination was described as "not well founded".

'Felt humiliated'

Miss Dean was awarded £136 basic compensation and £1,077 for loss of earnings.

The panel, which accepted she felt "humiliated" and experienced a "loss of confidence" following the dispute, also awarded her £6,800 for hurt feelings.

Abercrombie and Fitch in Savile Row
Abercrombie and Fitch's Savile Row shop is its flagship UK store

Miss Dean, who was forced to work in the stockroom after wearing a cardigan to cover her prosthetic arm, had originally sued the company for up to £20,000.

The ruling stated: "The tribunal is satisfied the reason for the claimant's dismissal was her breach of the look policy in wearing a cardigan.

"Whilst the tribunal is satisfied the claimant's dismissal was a consequence of her unlawful harassment, it can not be characterised direct disability discrimination."

Solicitor Steve Beverley, who represented Miss Dean at the tribunal, said: "I'm delighted for Riam who showed great courage - not only in bringing this case against a huge multi-national company, but in facing a challenging cross examination.

"It is all very well having glossy staff handbooks dealing with discrimination procedures - but you must actually apply them."

In a statement, counsel for A&F David Cupps, said the findings of the Tribunal were based "on the events of a single day" and that these "were not at all representative of Ms Dean's overall employment with A&F".

"We continue to believe that these events resulted from a misunderstanding that could have been avoided by better communication on the part of both parties," said Mr Cupps who added that the company continued to support the rights of disabled individuals.



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