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Dutch firm sorry for asking staff to submit photos of themselves in their underwear 'so they could work out uniform sizes'

The Netherlands' top supermarket chain has scrapped the 'innovative' plan

Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The largest supermarket chain in the Netherlands has issued an apology, after receiving enormous backlash for asking employees to take photos of themselves wearing "underwear or tight-fitting sportswear" and upload the pictures into an app to help determine what size uniforms they would need.

What are the details?

Albert Heijn, a firm with 100,000 employees, thought utilizing the app was an "innovative" plan and decided to ask one of its branches to try out the program before rolling it out to the rest of the country ahead of issuing new uniforms across its 1,000 stores in 2020. But it backfired spectacularly, when staffers revolted and went to the press.

According to the Daily Mail, Dutch newspaper NRC published quotes from stunned Albert Heijn employees who insisted they were instructed to submit semi-nude pics or face losing their jobs. "My mother thought it was a joke," 17-year-old employee Jochem de Haes told the outlet. "But the manager told us that if we don't do it, we can't be in the store anymore because we don't have the right corporate clothing."

Outrage ensued, with the Dutch Data Protection Authority calling the move "bizarre," and issuing a statement saying, "Albert Heijn has no basis at all for imposing this on his employees."

The company explained in a press release, "We conducted a test with an innovative mobile app in one of our supermarkets in order to determine closing sizes in a quick and efficient way. In this test we asked associates to upload a personal photo in close-fitted clothing or underwear for automatic analyses by the app."

"Although participation was voluntarily and pictures were not visible to management, this should never have happened. We have cancelled the pilot yesterday and we apologize to all involved."

An Ablert Heijn spokesperson also told the Dutch media that the company was trying to find a way to get the clothing sizes of all of its workers that would be more efficient than wading through 100,000 emails, the BBC reported. Now, the firm says they are "looking for a different method to identify clothing sizes" and will delete all of the photos already uploaded by employees.

One last thing…
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