The 55-year-old former captain of the Gulfstream G550 owned by teen clothing store chain Abercrombie and Fitch has settled an age discrimination suit with his former employer after the pilot alleged he was fired in favor of a younger (32) pilot. The retailer fought the suit brought by Michael Bustin until a judge ordered CEO Michael Jeffries (who is 68) to give a second deposition, undoubtedly to fill in gaps about evidence that came to light regarding the "Aircraft Standards" manual he and his life partner Matthew Smith wrote that outlined the required conduct of the cabin crew.
The manual and a series of hand-written notes between senior staff that surfaced painted a bizarre image of life aboard the big bizjet. Flight attendants, most of them male models, had to wear jeans, Abercrombie and Fitch polo shirts, boxer shorts, flipflops and regularly spritz themselves with the company cologne. They couldn't wear jackets unless the temperature dipped below 50 degrees and even then they could only be closed to the fourth button. The bottom buttons had to remain open. According to Judge Paul Diamond, the notes from company's Director of Procurement Scott Mayer "may well offer compelling proof that Matthew Smith, the life partner of Abercrombie CEO Michael Jeffries, allegedly acting at Jeffries's direction, illegally ordered Plaintiff's termination because of Plaintiff's age." In his original claim, Bustin said Jeffries and Smith regularly disparaged older employees and made it clear the company "preferred younger people as employees, in keeping with its 'young' corporate image." Details of the settlement were not released but Bustin earlier rejected a six-figure offer, according to court filings.