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Alexander McQueen, Kering Hit With Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

It marks the third time Alexander McQueen has been accused of racist practices within its New York stores.
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A look from Alexander McQueen's spring 2016 collection. Photo: Imaxtree

A look from Alexander McQueen's spring 2016 collection. Photo: Imaxtree

Alexander McQueen has been hit with yet another discrimination lawsuit — this time from Christopher Policard and Duane Davis, both African-American employees at the brand's Madison Avenue store, who jointly claim that the company has "engaged in systematic racism against Kering's African-American employees" and that it "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." They filed their complaint Thursday with the Supreme Court of the State of New York in the County of Bronx, which names Kering Americas Inc., Alexander McQueen Trading and Ltd., along with four managers or supervisors as defendants.

According to court documents obtained by Fashionista, Policard and Davis made formal complaints to their supervisors on two separate occasions — Sept. 17 and Nov. 18  — regarding discriminatory treatment. The two claim that the company investigated the matter "in a perfunctory and superficial manner" and that instead of responding with "corrective action, Defendants embarked upon a course of action designed to denigrate, punish and retaliate against them for making their complaint, intimidate them into withdrawing it or force them to leave the company."

The complaint goes on to list the various ways in which they've been discriminated against, including: being falsely accused of theft without evidence; being "invasively" screened for theft in front of employees and customers, unlike non-African American employees, who were subjected to screening either privately or in a less invasive manner; being "laughed at" for bringing up discrimination; being denied rights under employment practices and procedures; and performing heavy labor and "other menial, demeaning tasks that white employees are not asked to deal with."

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The plaintiffs are seeking damages for emotional distress and coverage of legal fees to be determined at a trial by jury. It also asks that the defendants be required to implement policies that prevent such racial discrimination from continuing to occur.

A representative for Alexander McQueen said the following: "We (Alexander McQueen and Kering) take these allegations very seriously and are investigating, however, we don't comment on current litigations."

Sadly, this isn't the first time the British luxury brand has come under fire for racial discrimination of store employees. Back in 2013, Othman Ibela, a security guard working at the Alexander McQueen Meatpacking District store, filed a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming fellow employees taunted him with racially insensitive jokes. The same year, a Hispanic saleswoman who had worked in the same store filed a similar suit, claiming that her supervisors had hurled insults like "burrito face" and "goya princess" at her.