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Supermarket backs down on call for staff undie pics

Dutch supermarket Albert Heijn asked for pictures of staff in their underwear. Images: Getty

It’s the question no employee ever wants to hear: “Can you send me a picture of yourself in your underwear?”

But it’s one staff at Dutch supermarket chain Albert Heijn were forced to confront after the retail giant asked workers to upload pictures of themselves in “underwear or tight-fitting sportswear” to an app so new uniforms could be sent out in the correct size. 

"Wear underwear or tight-fitting sportswear so the contours of your body can be measured as accurately as possible. And ask someone to help you take the photos," a poster in a staff canteen said, Dutch newspaper NRC first reported, with the poster also describing the process as ”mandatory”.

The report sparked heavy criticism on Dutch social media and led to the Dutch Data Protection Authority describing the app as providing a “bizarre database” of employees in underwear. 

However, in a statement, Albert Heijn said the pictures were voluntary, and were part of a trial at a store in the eastern Dutch city of Nigmegen. 

“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 voluntary and pictures were not visible to Albert Heijn management, this should never have happened," an Albert Heijn spokesperson told the BBC.

They said the supermarket was unsure how many people had taken and uploaded photos for the “innovative mobile app”, which was meant to be able to determine sizes in an efficient way, but has now pulled the pin on the controversial experiment. 

“We have cancelled the pilot and we apologise to all involved.”

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