Today in news that might shatter your faith in humanity (as if there hasn’t been enough of that already this weekend): A former Alexander McQueen security guard is accusing two of the brand’s retail employees of such severe and horrifying racial harassment that it almost drove him to suicide, the New York Post is reporting.
22-year-old Othman Ibela, from Central African nation Gabon, claims in a recent Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filing that he was repeatedly attacked because of his race while stationed at the brand’s Meatpacking store from 2011 to 2013. The harassment got to be so bad during the two-year-period that Ibela was eventually hospitalized for anxiety attacks and depression.
“They attacked me again and again,” Ibela, who was assigned to the store by SOS Security, told the Post. “I wanted to kill them and kill myself. Then everybody would be a loser.”
“This is one of the most profound reactions I’ve ever seen to racial harassment,” said Ibela’s attorney, civil rights lawyer Joshua Friedman.
After asking to be reassigned–and allegedly getting his pay docked and hours cut because of it–Ibela finally quit in January. Now, he’s taking legal action.
The recent filing, which is a precursor to a full-fledged lawsuit, accuses two of the brand’s employees specifically: sales clerk Kimberly Mahnke and shop manager Catherine Flynn.
Ibela alleged that Mahnke “repeatedly made jokes about me running nude in Africa with a spear in my hand,” and told him that the Obamas would be kicked out of the White House and “sent back to Africa.”
Catherine Flynn allegedly made fun of Ibela’s accent and said he sounded like he was speaking Swahili, an East African language not native to Gabon. She also allegedly asked him, “why Muslims were always killing people.”
Flynn’s and Mahnke’s alleged racism was not only directed at Ibela. The former security guard claims that the two McQueen employees would routinely ignore black customers–unless they were celebrities. “When Beyoncé came in, everyone wanted to help,” he said.
Mahnke denied the allegations flat-out saying, “There was nothing like that.”
SOS Security, which had stationed Ibela at the store, and Flynn did not respond to calls for comments. We’ve reached out to McQueen for comment and will update when we hear back.