In the course of an age-discrimination lawsuit brought against Abercrombie & Fitch by a former pilot, the weirdly specific rules governing the care and feeding of C.E.O. Michael Jeffries while on his private jet have become public. And it sure is interesting.
The Abercrombie & Fitch "Aircraft Standards" manual is more than 40 pages long, and lays down rules for the pilots and the flight crew — four strapping young Abercrombie types whose labor is contracted via a company called Cosmopolitan Management LLC that says it specializes in finding actors and models "with just the right look and personality" for temp jobs, like events. The manual governs what the staff can wear, how they should address Jeffries and his partner, Matthew Smith, and the songs that should be played inflight. The manual even gives detailed contingency plans for the seating of Jeffries' and Smith's dogs Ruby, Trouble, and Sammy, depending on which pets were traveling.
Jeffries, in case you are planning on serving him in the near future, prefers Assam tea in the morning. Like any civilized man should. But he requires Darjeeling after 2 p.m. Tea should in all instances be "served on a small tray with a small tray liner." Black gloves are used when handling silverware, and white gloves are used when setting the table.
The rest of the time, the uniform for the flight crew and pilots consists of an Abercrombie polo shirt, Abercrombie jeans, Abercrombie flip-flops, and an Abercrombie sweatshirt. For men, add Abercrombie boxer briefs, an Abercrombie belt, and a "spritz" of Abercrombie cologne. The document specifies that all male staffers must be clean-shaven. When the temperature dipped below 50 degrees, flight crew could wear Abercrombie jackets, provided they popped the collars. They could not change out of their Abercrombie flip-flops.
Meanwhile, anytime Jeffries and Smith were flying back to their home in Ohio, where the company is headquartered, the manual specified that the song "Take Me Home" had to be played.
And Jeffries had special rules for how he should be spoken to:
When Michael, Matthew, or a guest make a request, respond by saying ‘No Problem.' This should be used in place of phrases like, ‘Sure' or, ‘Just a minute.'
A private jet as stinky as an Abercrombie store, filled with white-gloved, hardbodied models with really cold toes murmuring, "No problem," over and over while Phil Collins plays on the sound system. Sounds like quite the way to travel.
These details came to light in a lawsuit brought by Michael Stephen Bustin, a pilot who flew Jeffries' corporate private jet and alleges he was terminated because of age discrimination. It's not the first time Abercrombie and its C.E.O. have had to defend a discrimination lawsuit: in 2004, the retailer settled three lawsuits that alleged pervasive racial discrimination in its hiring practices at a cost of nearly $50 million. Abercrombie's lawyers say Bustin's suit is without merit.