Pret-a-Reporter

Alexander McQueen, Kering Hit With Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

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An Alexander McQueen store on Old Bond Street in London, England.

The complaint states that the company "has engaged in systematic racism against African-American employees."

Alexander McQueen and its parent company Kering, which also operates luxury fashion houses Gucci, Balenciaga and Stella McCartney, are facing a racial discrimination lawsuit.

The complaint, filed on Dec. 9 in New York, states that the French fashion house "systematically rejects African-American job applicants who seek positions on the sales floor where they can be seen by customers or positions where they might have authority over white employees, relegating the few African-Americans who are hired to menial positions behind the scenes."

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According to the lawsuit, plaintiffs Christopher Policard and Duane Davis, who are both African-American, began their employment at the luxury label's 747 Madison Avenue location approximately one and two years ago, respectively.

And, the complaint states, "the only time that Policard and Davis are seen by customers is when Kering searches them for theft in front of the other employees and customers, which is done on the floor during business hours." The suit states that white employees, however, are screened for theft "after closing and in private."

The boutique's four supervisors — Catherine Flynn, Georgina Coleman, Samantha Boykin and Sidra Castor — are named in the lawsuit as having discriminated against the plaintiffs.

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"It is disturbing that in 2015 that this type of open discrimination continues to happen at the highest levels of the fashion community. Since 2013 the Alexander McQueen and Kering organizations have been on notice of racial discrimination claims but apparently have done very little if anything to fix the problem," read a statement from attorney Eric Baum of New York's Eisenberg & Baum, who is representing plaintiffs Christopher Policard and Duane Davis in the case. 

Baum added: "The mistreatment of our clients shows that they have failed in this endeavor. This lawsuit is brought not only to remedy the harm caused to our clients but to send a message to the Defendants and the entire retail industry that no level of discrimination will be tolerated by the African-American Community. No employee should be treated differently at work because of the color of their skin."

A rep for Alexander McQueen issued the following statement to THR: "We take these allegations very seriously and are investigating, however, we don’t comment on current litigations."

THR has also reached out to Kering for comment on the suit.

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