A man has alleged store associates in an Old Navy store racially profiled him over his own jacket. James Conley III visited the clothing retail company in Wes Des Moines, Iowa on Tuesday, Jan. 30. He said he was accused of not paying for the blue bubble coat he wore into the store. And now he’s hired two attorneys, according to the Des Moines Register.
“As I was checking out to purchase some hoodies, I was asked if I wanted to also purchase the jacket that I was wearing,” Conley, who taped the encounter, explained on Facebook after leaving the store. “First, I started laughing because I didn’t believe what I was hearing. The store manager, Beau Carter, was very unprofessional and stereotyped me because I was a Black male. He says ‘anytime someone wears Old Navy clothing they have to always scan that customer’s clothing to [ensure] that it was previously purchased.’ (Where do they do that at?)”
The 29-year-old further explained that he usually wears the same jacket into the store and never saw workers ask to scan non-Black people’s clothing that they wore into Old Navy. He also alleged the cashiers tried to make him pay for his jacket again after scanning his coat, which was caught on video. The district manager also arrived and Conley “made her check the surveillance tape to prove that [she] and her fellow employees were in the wrong for racially profiling me because of the color of my skin.”
“Once she confirmed that I was telling the truth (after watching the tape) she never came back out to apologize to me,” he added. “Nor did the store manager Beau Carter…”
In just two days, Conley’s story has been shared more than 100,000 times and Old Navy temporarily closed the location, which is in Jordan Creek, Wednesday, Jan. 31. The store also issued a statement saying it was investigating the matter.
“At Old Navy, and across Gap Inc., we maintain a ‘zero means zero’ policy and we are actively investigating the situation,” it said according to ABC 9.
“We are a company made up of diverse people — from all backgrounds and cultures,” it continued. “We encourage diversity in thought, celebrate diversity in each other and demand tolerance and inclusion, always.”
Still, the Des Moines Register reported Conley has hired attorneys Brandon Brown and Alfredo Parrish of Parrish Kruidenier Law Firm.
Brown told the paper they’ve “already sent out preservation demand letters and we plan on investigating this case.”
And according to a civil rights attorney who isn’t attached to the case, he says Conley definitely “could file a claim with the Iowa Civil Rights Act.”
“[Conley] has what’s called a denial of service case,” Thomas Newkirk of Des Moines, Iowa told ABC 9. “You’re denying service in the same way as if they put up a sign that said ‘Whites only.’ In this day and age, you can document it on video on a camera. He did that. He did it respectfully. He kept his temper. He did everything he should do.”