UPDATE: Three Iowa Old Navy employees are now unemployed after racially-profiling a black customer.
James Conley III's story went viral last week after he took to social media to share his experience of being harassed by the retail workers who refused to believe he previously paid for the jacket he was wearing.
Over the weekend, Old Navy addressed the issue on its Facebook page in a post that included an apology to Conley and an update that the three employees involved had been terminated.
While Conley certainly deserves more than a Facebook apology from the company, this is a step in the right direction. However, the company may also want to review its practices and make sure all managers and staff are properly trained to execute them accordingly while leaving their racial biases at home.
With the current state of race relations in America, it’s hard to believe we’re actually living in 2018.
People of color are being targeted with racism at what feels like alarming rates all over the country. Just recently, an Iowa man was racially profiled at an Old Navy store located in West Des Moines.
According to The Root, the employees didn’t believe that the man, James Conley III, previously purchased the coat he walked into the establishment wearing. Conley, 29, took to Facebook to share his infuriating experience.
“Today I was racially profiled by the Old Navy store in West Des Moines, Iowa in Jordan creek. I was accused that I didn’t pay for my blue bubble jacket that I got for Christmas that I wore into the store. As I was checking out to purchase some hoodies, I was asked if I wanted to also purchase the jacket that I was wearing. First, I started laughing because I didnt believe what I was hearing. The store manager Beau Carter was very unprofessional and stereotyped me because I was a Black male,” Conley wrote in his now-viral post.
The store manager reportedly told Conley that, “anytime someone wears Old Navy clothing they have to always scan that customer’s clothing to ensure that it was previously purchased.”
Adding insult to injury, even after scanning the item, the store clerk tried to make Conley repay for the jacket, which he refused to do. He requested that management check the surveillance footage to prove that he walked into the store wearing the coat. The district manager named Shannon finally obliged, and Conley’s name was cleared.
“Once she confirmed that I was telling the truth (after watching the tape) she never came back out to apologize to me nor did the store manager Beau Carter as you can see in my videos below,” Conley said toward the end of his post.
While Conley recorded the incident, it’s clear the employees were feeling embarrassed and ashamed as they tried to demand that he stop filming. One employee even went as far as to claim the store had a no-recording policy.
Conley immediately sought legal counsel, and he is now being represented by attorneys Brandon Brown and Alfredo Parrish.
“We have already sent out preservation demand letters, and we plan on investigating into this case,” Brown said.
Ironically enough, the Old Navy store where the incident occurred was closed days later with no explanation or details about when it would be reopened. However, a spokesperson for the company, Liz Nunan, said that they have a “zero means zero” policy for racial profiling, and officials would be further investigating the situation.
“We are a company made up of diverse people — from all backgrounds and cultures,” Nunan said. “We encourage diversity in thought, celebrate diversity in each other, and demand tolerance and inclusion, always.”
It's yet another generic response from the corporate handbook of how to do damage control when your racist practices are exposed.
The bottom line is that the way Conley was treated was unacceptable, and Old Navy better brace itself for the lawsuit headed its way.