Update: Discrimination Lawsuits Against High-End Perfume Company Bond No. 9 Have Been Withdrawn

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Both former employees who alleged racial discrimination against the high-end perfumer Bond No. 9 and its owner Laurice Rahme have voluntarily withdrawn their cases, according to information we received from the company. In a note signed by Rahme, she notes that normally in these cases, there’s a monetary settlement to bring the lawsuit to an end. There was no such settlement here.

“In this case, however, the claims against me and my company were so blatantly false, insulting and personally and professionally damaging, that I never considered any option but to defend against these allegations,” the letter states.

“I take enormous pride in my multi-national, multi-ethnic staff, and our multitudes of customers from all over New York, the United States, and the world.  Indeed, my New York-oriented fragrance company (whose scents are named for areas of the city as diverse as Coney Island, Harlem, the Bowery, and Park Avenue) is constantly inspired by the melting pot that is our great city,” Rahme adds.

Given the problems the lawsuit caused, we asked whether the company would be changing any of its hiring practices to avoid this sort of issue in the future.

“We are not changing any hiring nor employment practices,” Rahme told us in an emailed response. “We will continue hiring the diverse team as this is what our clients enjoy. Our business was affected at the beginning as bad publicity always affects business. We have now done a big turn around and our business is flourishing.”

In other Bond No. 9 news, the company announced today that it is taking its free refill program, which has quietly been around for seven years, public. Between May 29 and June 11, if you take your empty perfume bottle “regardless of brand” to Bond No. 9, you’ll get a large bottle of one of Bond No. 9’s perfumes (you have to choose from one of 16 identified scents). To take advantage of the deal, you have to purchase two Bond No. 9 products, excluding the pocket sprays.

So if you’re looking for a summer scent, you might want to check it out.

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Original post published August 14, 2012

Veronica Robledo and Karin Widmann, two former “perfumistas” at the high-end perfume shop Bond No. 9, have sued the company’s owner Laurice Rahme, alleging that they were fired for not heeding instructions to follow black customers around the store when given a verbal cue.

The two former staffers are suing Rahme for $3 million. Robledo and Widmann say there was a code that Rahme used — “We need the light bulbs changed” — when she wanted them to tail a customer.

Robledo, who is Puerto Rican, worked with Rahme for nine years. Both workers were fired after Rahme accused them of stealing $25,000 worth of merchandise in February. They deny any thievery.

Rahme, of course, has denied that she’s a racist, saying that many of her staffers are minorities and professing her love for black customers in the New York Daily News.  The code, she says, is used when someone dodgy comes into the store and bothers the “perfumistas.”

Just last month, another retailer, Wet Seal, was sued by staffers for discrimination.

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