By Frederick H. Lowe
Kanye West and Jennifer Hudson attended the 2012 opening of Versace’s New York store in SoHo. Ne-Yo posed for pictures with Donatella Versace during Versace’s Couture Show, which was part of Paris Fashion Week 2013.
And the rapper Drake added his voice to a song with Migos about Versace.Teen heartthrob Bruno Mars sings the romantic song “Verace on the Floor.”
African-American entertainers have long shown off their elegant and expensive Versace threads on the red carpet and where paparazzi fight each other for the best photograph.
It’s not known, however, if Drake and the others will change their tunes after learning about a recent lawsuit filed by a former Versace salesman. The lawsuit charges that the fashion house discriminated against black shoppers by tracking them soon as they walked into the store.
The lawsuit is unusual but the scorn and suspicion black shoppers receive when they walk into store is not.They are followed, urged to open their wallets and to leave the store quickly as possible. I have written about the dangers and insults black men face shopping in the nation’s retail stores.
In the case of Versace, Christopher Sampino, 23, charged in a lawsuit that when a black person walked into the Versace U.S.A. Inc. store in Pleasanton, Calif., he was told to say “D410” in a casual manner to let other salespersons know that a black person had walked into the building, according to a 30-page lawsuit filed Dec. 16, 2016, in California Superior Court in Alameda County. Versace U.S.A. is based in New York.
“The manager also told the plaintiff that he could hold a black shirt” so they (black shoppers) don’t know what you are talking about. “The manager then showed a clothing tag to the plaintiff (Sampino) and informed him “D410” is on all black clothing,” according to the lawsuit.
When Sampino, who is biracial, told the manager he was part African-American, he was treated differently and later fired although he had met or exceeded his employer’s stated expectations.
NorthStar News Today.com and Blackmansstreet.today could not reach a Versace spokesman. So we left a message seeking comment on the company’s Facebook page. Versace U.S.A. is based in New York.
According to various unconfirmed news reports, Donatella Versace is seeking to have the lawsuit dismissed. Sampino’s lawsuit seeks class-action status.
The lawsuit also charges that Versace did not compensate Sampino for all the hours he worked; the retailer failed to provide meal and rest periods; failed to maintain accurate records; failed to furnish wage and hour statements; failed to pay final wages. Versace also failed to prevent and investigate discrimination and harassment and the retailer is also accused of wrongfully terminating Sampino, according to the lawsuit