Ex-Versace worker says company profiled black customers

LIVERMORE, Calif.— A former employee at a Versace outlet store in the San Francisco Bay Area is suing the retailer for allegedly discriminating against him and customers, according to a lawsuit filed in Alameda County court.

The plaintiff, 23-year-old Christopher Sampino, alleges that workers in the Livermore store used a code to notify each other when black customers walked in, according to court documents filed in November.

He claims a manager told him to casually say “D410” when a black person entered the store. D410 is a code used in the store for black clothing.

Sampino responded to the manager with, “You know that I’m African-American?” He was treated differently after that and was fired two weeks later, the lawsuit claims. 

The suit alleges that Sampino was told he was fired because he did not “know luxury” and “had not lived the luxury life,” not because of his performance.

Versace has filed a request to move the case from state court to a federal court. The company denied the allegations in a statement to the East Bay Times.

“Versace believes strongly in equal opportunity, as an employer and a retailer. We do not tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, national origin or any other characteristic protected by our civil rights laws,” says the statement, in part.

Versace is only the latest retailer to wade into allegations of racial discrimination. Employees of CVS sued the company last year claiming they were trained to profile black and Latino customers. Barneys New York and Macy’s reached deals with the New York Attorney General in 2014 to settle racial profiling allegations. The year before, the media mogul Oprah described feeling discriminated against when a high-end boutique in Switzerland would not show her a particular handbag, claiming it was too expensive for her.