Versace Employee Fired for Pushing Back Against Using Code for Black Shoppers Files Lawsuit

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Versace storefront (Adrián Pérez/Flickr)

A former Versace employee has sued the high-end retailer alleging one of its California locations uses a special code to alert associates that a Black customer has entered the store. Plaintiff Christopher Sampino, 23, has filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of anyone else who has faced similar issues and he also asserted he was fired after his manager learned he is Black.

Sampino filed the claim in California Superior Court in Alameda County on Nov. 16, which includes suits for racial discrimination, wrongful termination, failure to compensate for all hours worked, failure to provide meals and rest periods, and failure to pay final wages on time.

The suit states Sampino was hired at the Pleasanton, California, outlet store around Sep. 18. During training, the manager told the him to use the code “D410” for Black shoppers who enter. “D410” is the code that appears on all black Versace clothing.

“The manager also told Plaintiff that he could ‘hold a black shirt’ when using the code ‘so that they don’t know what you’re talking about,'” the lawsuit claims, while also noting that Sampino is a quarter Black. “The Plaintiff responded by telling the manager, ‘You know that I’m African-American?’ Plaintiff said the manager seemed surprised by Plaintiff’s response.”

After Sampino revealed his race, the suit alleges that any further training “no longer seemed legitimate.” During that period, the plaintiff claims he did not learn when he should take rest periods and so he didn’t take them. The suit also states that Sampino did not get the login information needed to retrieve his pay stubs. By Oct. 1, the documents read, Versace fired Sampino, not because of his performance — which plaintiff claims was “met or exceeded expectations” — but because he “[doesn’t] understand luxury,” and because he “[doesn’t] know the luxury life.” The suit further states that the store told Sampino he was fired because he hasn’t “lived the luxury life” and also urged him to quit because it would “make the paperwork easier.”

Versace has denied the lawsuit’s claims, according to papers also filed in the Alameda County Superior Court and obtained by Fox 6 . The company is asking a judge to dismiss the case. A case-status conference is scheduled for March 21.

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