Former Versace Employee Sues Fashion House Over Racist Secret Code Used to Target Black Customers

While 22% of new hires leave their jobs within 45 days of being hired, due to poor performance and temperament issues, in the case of Christopher Sampiro, his situation was incredibly different.

Rather, Sampiro is suing his former employer Versace for unfair business practices and racist behaviors. He says he was fired after spending two weeks with the fashion house for being of mixed race.

Sampiro goes on to explain in his lawsuit that during his training, his manager taught him about the D410 code, which is the store’s code for black clothing. He was told that whenever a black customer walked into the San Francisco store, he was to calmly say D410 over the company headset and hold up a black garment so customers wouldn’t know they were being

In response, Sampiro identified himself to his manager — who was not named in the lawsuit — as being one-fourth African American. After this exchange, Sampiro claims he was treated differently, not given legitimate training, and was ostracized by his manager and other Versace coworkers.

Sampiro was fired two weeks after the D410 incident, under the claims that he “did not understand luxury,” and “didn’t know the luxury life.” However, he claims that he was not paid for his two weeks of work and was not given legal rest periods.

The lawsuit was filed about six weeks after Sampiro’s termination and seeks lost wages. In response, Versace denied the allegations and asked the judge to dismiss the case all together.

When the judge decided to hear the case, Versace made a public statement about its commitment to equality. The St. Louis American reports the statement:

Versace believes strongly in equal opportunity, as an employer and a retailer. We do not tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, national origin or any other characteristic protected by our civil rights laws. We have denied the allegations in this suit, and we will not comment further concerning pending litigation.”

The first hearing is scheduled for March 21, 2017.

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