Lawsuit Claims Versace Uses Special “Code” For Black Customers

December 28, 2016  |  

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A Versace outlet store in Pleasanton, California, uses a secret “code” for Black customers–at least that’s what one former employee claims in a lawsuit accusing the luxury fashion label of unfair business practices. On top of the secret code allegation, Christopher Sampiro, 23, also claims Versace fired him just two weeks after he was hired for being mixed race.

According to court papers, Sampiro says during his new-employee training, a manager informed his of the ‘D410 Code’– the same code used for Black clothing. “The manager instructed Sampiro to say ‘D410’ in a casual manner when a Black person entered the store,” reported CNN. By doing so, co-workers would be alerted that “a black person is in the store,” the lawsuit stated.

At this point Sampiro told the manager that he himself is African American. (Sampiro, who is of a multicultural background, self-identifies as one-quarter African American.) Soon after, Sampiro was fired because he didn’t “understand luxury” and didn’t “know the luxury life,” the lawsuit said.

This is not a good look for Versace, considering African American consumers have a taste for luxury goods. In fact, according to a 2008 study, Blacks spend more on luxury items (clothes, cars, jewelry) than their white counterparts– “On average, Blacks will outspend whites by $1,900,” reported Fashionista. If Sampiro’s allegations are proven true, it could — and should — cost Versace some Black clients.

Versace had denied Sampiro’s allegations and legally sought to have a judge to dismiss the case. A case status conference is set for March 21.

Versace did not respond to CNN’s request for a statement.

 

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