Students Win A&F Discrimination Suit
UC Irvine New University
Jan. 3, 2005

Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F), one of the nation’s largest clothing retailers, settled a $40 million race and discrimination class action lawsuit Nov. 16 with lawyers working on behalf of 16 named plaintiffs representing African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans.

Among the 16 were three UCI students and one alumna, Jennifer Lu, who said she is satisfied with the settlement. Lu graduated from UCI in fall of 2003 with a B.A. in criminology, law and society. She worked at the A&F store in the Crystal Court location of South Coast Plaza from September 2000 to February 2003. Lu said she was unexpectedly laid off after a corporate representative made a visit to that location in January 2003.

Less than a week following the visit from the corporate representative, Lu and four other Asian-American employees were laid off.

“We were told that the store didn’t need so many people after Christmas, so they going to have layoffs,'” Lu said. “It just happened to be all the Asians. But within a week, A&F hired five more sales representatives to replace us. I couldn’t believe it.”

Lu said she was later told by one of the store managers that, “The corporate representative told the senior store manager that, ‘You need to have more staff that look like this,’ pointing to an Abercrombie poster. It was a Caucasian model.”

In addition to paying $40 million to settle the lawsuit, A&F will also have to pay about $10 million to cover attorney’s fees and to monitor compliance for several years by hiring external inspectors.

Also, A&F has entered into a consent decree, which requires the company to change its hiring and marketing practices. Among other requirements, A&F has to hire 25 diversity recruiters and a vice president for diversity to oversee the applicant pool and workforce, and also increase racial variety in its advertisements and catalogs.

Mike Jeffries, chairman and chief executive officer for A&F, said in a news release after the settlement, “We have, and always have had, no tolerance for discrimination. We decided to settle this suit because we felt that a long, drawn out dispute would have been harmful to the company and distracting to management. We can now focus on achieving even greater representation of diversity among our associates and management … We have already started to implement many of these new policies.”

Grant, Research Will Benefit Rural Brazil
UC Riverside The Highlander
January 3, 2005

Associate Professor of Economics Steven Helfand will lead an international team to seek ways to reduce poverty and hunger among rural Brazilians.

Helfand was selected after a competitive grant competition to gain $400,000 in federal grant funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Helfand is chair of the Latin American Studies department at UCR and spearheaded the two-year project, titled “Regional Diversity in Pathways Out of Rural Poverty in Brazil: Implications for the Design of Public Policies.”

The scholastic venture will study the combined data collected by agencies in Brazil and several new studies.

“Brazil has a new government that is committed to reducing poverty,” Helfand said. “Our argument is that they do not have the information they need to succeed. So we are trying to provide the information and analysis that will allow them to be more successful.”

Roughly half of the rural population in Brazil was living in poverty at the beginning of the century, according to government estimates, with half of those in extreme poverty.

Man shot on UC Davis campus not a student
UC Davis California Aggie
Dec. 16 2004

In a fatal police shooting Tuesday evening that took place outside the Student Housing office near Regan Hall residence buildings, one man was shot and killed by UC Davis police after he fired on them. It was the first officer-involved shooting death on the UCD campus.

UCD officials confirmed Wednesday that the shooting suspect, identified as Martin Louie Castro Soriano, was not a UCD student. No information regarding Soriano’s background could be given out at the time of the press briefing.

Three UCD police officers responded to a 9-1-1 call made at 5:06 p.m. on Tuesday about a suspicious person on campus. Several eyewitnesses reported that Soriano, 26, was acting “bizarrely” and speaking incoherently.

When approached by the officers, Soriano brandished a handgun and fired at them.

“What we know is that clearly, the officers were fired upon,” UCD Police Chief Calvin Handy said. “At this point, we believe one officer returned fire.”

Paramedics responded, but Soriano died from a bullet wound to the chest at the scene.

Handy told reporters that a vehicle, believed to belong to Soriano, was located near the scene. No additional information regarding the vehicle was given out.

Yolo County will lead the incident investigation to maintain an independent quality to the analysis, as UCD police were involved in the shooting.