A former Versace employee is claiming that stores use a code word for black customers

Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

A man who formerly worked at a Versace store in the San Francisco area is claiming that store employees were encouraged to use a code for black customers in the store. 

The employee, Christopher Sampino, has filed a lawsuit against Versace for racial discrimination. Sampino said that his manager encouraged staffers to use the code "D410," to notify other employees of black customers in the store. The code itself comes from the brand's black clothing, according to TMZ, which broke the story on Monday. 

Per the lawsuit, the manager told Sampino that he could "hold a black shirt" when using the phrase with other employees, "so that they don't know what what you are talking about." "They," meaning the black customer being identified. 

When Sampino, who is one-quarter African-American, was told about the code, he said, "You know that I'm African-American?"

A Versace store
Source: 
Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

After that, Sampino says that the store's management treated him differently, with the store refusing him access to pay stubs, among other things. 

"For example, Plaintiff observed that training no longer seemed legitimate after he announced that he is African-American," the lawsuit reads. "Plaintiff did not receive proper training with regard to rest breaks and did not take rest breaks. Plaintiff further did not receive login information needed to access an online database where employees retrieved print outs of pay stubs." 

People on Twitter, no surprise, had some strong reactions to Sampino's claims.

Two weeks after being hired, Sampino was fired and claims he was told that it was because he hadn't "lived the luxury life" and doesn't "understand luxury."

In a statement to Mic, the company said the following: "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." 

According to the Root's report, Versace has filed a request to dismiss the suit entirely. 

Dec. 27, 2016, 2:23 p.m. This story has been updated.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Rachel Lubitz

Rachel is a senior Style writer at Mic. She previously worked for The Washington Post's Style section for more than three years. Feel free to contact her at rachel@mic.com.

MORE FROM

3 Chicago officers charged with conspiracy in the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald

The three Chicago police officers allegedly conspired to prevent an independent investigation and prosecution against Officer Jason Van Dyke.

Video shows officer threatening black man for jaywalking without an ID

The officer is not currently under investigation.

Black teens handcuffed for selling water on National Mall are now getting job offers

"I feel like it was a bad situation turned into a good situation."

3 of the Central Park 5 men just received honorary high school diplomas

All of the men in the Central Park Five will receive the diplomas they were denied after their wrongful convictions as teenagers.

Another sign marking a scene from Emmett Till's murder has been vandalized

It's at least the second time in the past year a sign marking Till's murder has been vandalized.

South Carolina woman faces charges for ripping Confederate battle flag off driver's truck

The woman reportedly backed into the owner's truck, then fled the scene.

3 Chicago officers charged with conspiracy in the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald

The three Chicago police officers allegedly conspired to prevent an independent investigation and prosecution against Officer Jason Van Dyke.

Video shows officer threatening black man for jaywalking without an ID

The officer is not currently under investigation.

Black teens handcuffed for selling water on National Mall are now getting job offers

"I feel like it was a bad situation turned into a good situation."

3 of the Central Park 5 men just received honorary high school diplomas

All of the men in the Central Park Five will receive the diplomas they were denied after their wrongful convictions as teenagers.

Another sign marking a scene from Emmett Till's murder has been vandalized

It's at least the second time in the past year a sign marking Till's murder has been vandalized.

South Carolina woman faces charges for ripping Confederate battle flag off driver's truck

The woman reportedly backed into the owner's truck, then fled the scene.