A former employee at a Versace store in the Bay Area has filed a lawsuit against the fashion giant for encouraging racist practices among its staff.
The man alleges, shortly after he was hired, his manager told him to use a code word, "D410," in order to secretly alert whenever a black customer walked in. (D410, apparently, is the couture retailer’s official code for black-colored clothing items.)
TMZ reports when the employee, in response to the discriminatory instruction, called attention to the fact that he was African-American himself, the management punished him by refusing to give him rest breaks and eventually firing him only after two weeks, saying he “hadn’t lived the luxury life.”
The plaintiff is seeking compensation for unpaid wages and damages.
Although various brands are slowly acknowledging and trying to fix their racial blindspots, the fashion industry, including Versace, still has a lot to learn in terms of race and diversity.
In September 2013, activists from the Diversity Coalition accused fashion behemoths such as Versace, Louis Vuitton, Calvin Klein, Prada, Alexander McQueen and Chanel, among others, of failing to promote diversity in the fashion world, in a set of four letters.
“Not accepting another based on the color of their skin is clearly beyond ‘aesthetic’ when it is consistent with the designer’s brand. Whether it’s the decision of the designer, stylist or casting director, that decision to use basically all white models, reveals a trait that is unbecoming to modern society,” the letter stated.
Versace hasn’t publicly addressed the lawsuit but TMZ added the brand has denied the former worker’s allegations and filed a request for the suit’s dismissal.